There’s a new blog devoted to the sizzling hot less-is-more shoe trend affecting runners everywhere. It’s called Zero Drop. The catchy name refers to the height difference between the shoe’s heel and toe area; and with barefoot or natural running, that distance is 0, while with most conventional running shoes, the drop is 12mm or higher. A large drop means that the runner lands on his or her heel, which is an open invitation to foot and leg injuries. The correct way to land is on the midfoot or forefront, as nature originally intended us to run.
Thanks to the runaway success (literally) of the national bestseller, “Born to Run,” by Christopher McDougall, injury-prone runners are kicking off their well-cushioned running shoes and are either going barefoot or minimalist — which means using flat-sole, zero-drop shoes like the odd-looking Vibram Five Fingers that bring the sole of the foot closer to the ground. The foot was not anatomically designed to be encased in a stiff, unyielding. artificial box, or what one leading critic of the running shoe industry calls “foot coffins.” Try this quick experiment: take off your shoes and run barefoot for a few yards. You will land on the middle or fore area of your foot; that’s how millions of years of evolution made it so for humans. To deny this genetic, natural ancestry is to invite tendon and ligament injuries by excessive heel-striking, even with thick shoe heels. (Watch the great Olympic middle-distance and long-distance runners; they land on their midfoot or forefoot.)
A number of big running shoe companies like New Balance and Saucony and are now hopping aboard the minimalist bandwagon. But minimalism can be misleading, nor is there a uniform definition what it means. Some manufacturers use it to describe the shoe’s weight; others refer to low-heel height, less footbed cushioning, or thinner shoe bottoms. Also, it’s not recommended to go directly from a built-up running shoe to running barefoot, or even the Vibrams. You need to ease into it. Start with a few minutes initially, and increase the time over several weeks or months, depending on your mileage and comfort level. Because of this transitional need, there’s gateway shoes like the Nike Frees that allow your feet and legs to gradually adjust to the different biomechanic forces now being employed. Many runners experience calf strain at first when using minimalist shoes, but over time, the common consensus is usually this: “I can’t believe I have been running improperly all these years with the wrong type of shoes; I now never get injured.”
So drop everything (we had to get that pun in) and check out the new Zero Drop site, especially if you want to learn more more about this latest running shoe trend. It launched in mid-November, and it’s already drawing a large following with its spunky commentary, shoe reviews, and entertaining news tidbits. Its A-Z minimalist and barefoot running shoe guide will keep you on your toes.Share on Facebook