If you’d like to go for minimalist or barefoot running shoes but your worried about the transition. Taking a step down in heel to toe drop will help get you to zero drop in a staged and controlled way.
This guide will help you choose the best running shoes with a 4mm heel drop for you.
There aren’t many recreational runners who naturally prefer a 4mm drop in their running shoes. Those who do own a pair of running shoes with a 4mm drop more than likely have them for a specific reason. Such as:
Most running shoes have a drop between 5 and 10 mm. I have a pair of both that I change during the week to try to avoid an injury. Running mile after mile in the same shoes over pretty much the same routes week in week leaves you prone to an injury caused by that repetition.
Changing things up a little with the heel to toe drop changes things slightly. The theory being that you’ll use your muscles in subtly different ways and the chances of an injury caused by repetition is reduced.
Introducing a pair of 4mm shoes into my rotation hasn’t crossed my mind as there are so many more options if you look for 5mm and 10mm drop shoes. But there’s no reason you couldn’t add 4mm drop shoes into the mix.
Transition To Zero Drop Running Shoes
If you’ve read born to run you may want to go zero drop barefoot minimalist tomorrow. Some people can make that jump easily but there are more people who tried and got injured and went back to a cushioned shoe.
I think there’s a place for both schools of thought in the world and it depends on what sort of runner you are. If you’re a casual runner who maybe runs now and then, avoid the barefoot brigade. If your getting more serious about your running there’s no doubt that zero drop or barefoot running will bring benefits in the form of foot and leg strength.
Think about using a 4mm drop shoe as a gateway running shoe to the barefoot world. When you get them run around the block slowly and see how your legs and feet feel straight after and the next day. Go back to your ‘normal’ running shoes for the rest of the week and try running a little bit further the following week.
Essentially transition slowly and come up with a plan that works for you.
We tend to think of these low drop or zero drop running shoes as being at the opposite end of the spectrum to a maximalist shoe. This is true of many running shoes with a lower drop but there are those out there that still have plenty of cushioning in the stack.
The extreme example of that is the Nike AlphaFly Next%. Nikes flagship carbon plated marathon racing shoe. However my focus here is for a daily training running shoe.
A 4mm drop shoe with a good stack of cushioning could help make the transition to more extreme racers. For those wanting to transition to the barefoot world this is probably a step too far.
There other benefits to a running shoe with a 4mm drop.
In pre-COVID-19 19 times I would go to park run on a Saturday morning and then head straight to the gym. My beloved Hoka Clifton 6’s were perfect for a hight speed blast with a few hundred like minded people. But they were less than ideal for the gym.
For that reason I packed an old pair of Ascis that were my first running shoes and had a pretty firm midsole. A pair of minimal-ish 4mm drop shoes would been usable in the gym. I’ll never give up my Hokas so I’ll always be packing a second pair of shoes.
Its never a good idea to make a radical change to your running shoes. That is unless you’ve discovered a serious problem with what you have been wearing. Taking the slow and steady approach to switching out your shoes for a pair with intentionally different characteristics is the only way to go.
A Good Achilles Tendon Stretch
If you want to build some flexibility into your Achilles tendon a lower drop can help. Only to be tried in very small increments but the lower the drop the more the Achilles will be stretched.
A lower drop running shoe will build up the strength in the foot. This has been noted as a way to prevent the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Big warning here – If you’ve had plantar fasciitis in the past get some proper advice before you start pounding the street in radically different running shoes.
Ask An Expert For Help
Any doubts or concerns about what you are planning on doing, ask an expert. Bare in mind that if you ask someone wearing their Vibrams you’ll get a radically different answer to someone who’s wearing a pair of Hoka Bondi’s.
Conclusion: Best Running Shoes With A 4mm Heel Drop
Whatever your reason for wanting to run in a pair of 4mm drop running shoes, make the transition slowly.
If you notice any signs of pain immediately after your run or the next day. Leave them a couple of weeks before you try to run in them again.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I go from running in a show with a 10mm drop to a shoe with a drop of 4mm or less?
It can be done but should be done carefully. If you’re not a careful type of runner you may want to avoid such a radical change.
Why do running shoes have different heel to toe drop?
Every runner is different. Some people prefer to have more of a drop than others. It’s a personal preference often informed by events and shoes of the past.