What is heel drop and is it important?

You know what it is like when shopping for your perfect running shoe. There is lots of considerations to take into account such as the right type of shoe, the comfort and ride, the technology inside the shoe, the fitting e.g. wide fit and then there is also something called heel drop. So, what is heel drop and is it important?

It’s not the most important factor to consider when buying a new pair of running shoes but it is important to understand what it is. As you know, every shoe is different and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding the preferred drop.

What is it?

In basics terms, heel drop (or offset) is the measurement of the ‘drop’ i.e. the measurement of how high a shoe is from its ‘heel to toe’. Just think of it as the height of the shoe. These come in various sizes, traditionally measured in millimetres (mm).

The manufacturers determine what the ‘heel drop’ of their shoes are and this information is readily available for each shoe. When you search the mymo database of running shoes, we provide the heel drop for all the shoes we recommend to make it easier to filter and search for shoes with a particular/preferred drop appropriate for your running style.

Some runners prefer a lower drop i.e. 2mm-4mm and is typically built into racing shoes. The lower the drop, the better it is for runners who are midfoot to forefoot strikers. The higher the drop i.e. 10mm+, this is suited better for runners who land on their heel (heel strikers) to give them more cushioning and shock absorption and protection of the Achilles tendon area.

The lower the drop, the flatter the shoe. The higher the drop, the more built up the shoe is.

How do you measure heel drop?

If a shoe has 22mm of material under the forefoot and 32mm of material under the heel, this will have a ‘heel drop’ of 10mm (32mm – 22mm). If the shoe has 10mm of material under the forefoot and 10mm under the heel then the drop is 0mm or zero. It really is as simple as that.

What is the best level of drop for me?

That’s not an easy question to answer. It depends on your running style, type of run i.e. training / racing and the terrain i.e. road or trails. There is no right or wrong answer to this, it comes down to your own personal preference. Some runners have different heel drops on different shoes and will alternate shoes depending on the type of run, while others will prefer a standard drop on all shoes.

A runner who has persistent problems with their Achilles might want to consider a shoe with a 10mm-12mm drop to prevent the tendon stretching further and being under immense pressure during exercise.

It is claimed that the lower the drop, the more natural the position of the foot is and allows you to land on your midfoot. Basically, the foot affected by an elevated heel and isn’t likely to send shock waves through your leg.

Can heel drop occur injuries

The heel drop can contribute towards getting injured. Let’s take the example above of a runner who has persistent problems with their Achilles. If they run in a shoe which has a high heel drop, i.e. 10mm-12mm then decides to buy a shoe which has a much lower drop, i.e. 4mm-6mm then this will put extra strain on the tendon and may result in further problems and injuries.

Whatever the heel drop is in your shoe, it may take time for your body to adapt particularly if you are not used to wearing that particular drop.

Our guide

Here’s our guide to various heel drops:

Zero (0mm) forefoot – midfoot strikers
4mm – midfoot strikers
8mm – midfoot striker but you may notice the built up heel
10mm – midfoot to heel striker
12mm – heel striker