My Shoe History, Foot Pain and Zero Drop Shoes

Since it’s Tuesday, I’m joining the link-up organized by Zenaida and Kim (Kooky Runner)

The Topic for today is: Zero-Drop Shoes

How to Buy the Best Running Shoes | GQ

As a runner, I was always aware of how important your shoes are. I obsessed about them and never hesitated to buy another pair.

I knew about neutral shoes vs stability shoes and switched back and forth. Having bunions, I was always concerned about having a wide toe box and had no problems finding shoes that accommodated this.

In the beginning, I wore whatever felt comfortable: Saucony, Brooks, Asics, New Balance, Newton. I tried them all.

I finally settled on Nikes and wore them happily for several years.


Then I switched to Mizunos and loved them (even ran my Marathon in them).


Finally came my foot pain aka the Neuroma/Bunion issue.  I tried several shoes with a wide toe box. My foot still hurt so I kept returning them. Finally I settled on Hokas.


I still felt discomfort but it was bearable. I didn’t even realize that it may have been because they had a lower heel drop than I had been wearing.

I hesitated to go to Zero Drop until I hiked 10 miles in my Altra (Zero-drop) Trail shoes (that I only bought because they were on sale).  For the first time in a long time, my foot did not hurt.


Hmmm.  So I ordered a pair of Topos (They also have a wide toe box).  Not zero drop yet but a lower drop than my Hokas.

My foot felt a lot better.  It was sore but I actually ran 10 miles and did not have to go home immediately to ice my foot.

So I took the plunge and ordered Topos in a Zero-drop style.

that color was on clearance lol

Magical!! NO FOOT PAIN!!

  • Mizuno Wave Inspire – Drop: 12 mm
  • Hoka Gaviota – Drop: 5 mm
  • Topo Fly-Lyte – Drop: 3 mm
  • Topo Magnifly – Drop: 0 mm

Maybe it was a coincidence and had nothing to do with a shoe with a lower heel drop.

But I decided to look into it.  And here’s what I discovered:

  • In zero-drop shoes, the heels and toes are the same distance off the ground (as in when you walk barefoot.)
  • The main benefit of zero-drop shoes is that, unlike regular shoes, they keep your foot in its natural position: level from heel to toe.
  • When runners start wearing zero-drop shoes, their posture and overall alignment improves.
  • Because zero-drop shoes engage the foot itself in absorbing the impact of running, they very often allow for greater foot movement (Most have a wider toe box.)
  • Because zero-drop shoes usually don’t have extra cushioning (though some do), they are made from less material. That helps maintain lighter weight, which can help your speed and improve your endurance.
  • Shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop encourage heel striking which can play a major factor when it comes to running-related knee pain.
  • If you’ve been wearing regular running shoes, don’t go right into zero-drop. A transition period is recommended to give your feet (and whole body) time to adjust to the new lower-drop in the heel.

Running Shoes: How to Choose the Best Running Shoes | REI Co-op

Obviously, zero-drop shoes are not for everyone.  And if your feet feel fine when you run, there’s no need to switch.

I do think, they worked for me because they put less pressure on my forefoot (where the pain was.)

I worry about the lack of support and cushioning (especially at my age). But right now, I’m enjoying being mostly pain-free (if only there were races to be run lol)

I did save one pair of Brooks, Nike and Mizunos just in case I want to go back (and gave the rest away.)

I’m also linking up here:

Formerly the Running Coaches’ Corner, it’s back with new co-hosts Coach Debbie RunsRunning on HappyConfessions of a Mother RunnerMile by MileRuns with Pugs, and Fauxrunner.

Happy Running! Have you tried Zero-Drop Running Shoes? Why or Why not? Please share.

34 thoughts on “My Shoe History, Foot Pain and Zero Drop Shoes

  1. So great that you managed to solve your foot issues, Darlene!
    That’s amazing that you found the solution in the zero-drop shoes.
    I wonder why the market is flooded with 10mm drop shoes in the first place? Shouldn’t we all be running in zero-drop shoes? I’ll have a closer look at that next time I buy a new pair.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay that zero drop was the answer. I’ve been running very happily in Brooks Launch for a while but I heard that it’s good to run in more than one kind of shoe so I picked up a pair of Glycerin and I’m amazed at the difference, and not in a good way. The Glycerin is a more cushioned shoe so they feel great on my feet but for some reason they put a lot more strain on my hips and legs. While I continue to use them for short runs just b/c I’m curious to see what happens, I have to say that this may be the worst piece of running advice that I’ve ever followed. With that said, I would be interested to try zero drop someday – everything that I use right now is around 10mm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes. I thought support was the answer. But I would recommend going down slowly like I did. And of course, low-drop doesn’t work for everyone.


    • Birchwood, research absolutely shows that more cushioning may dampen forces at the foot and ankle, but INCREASES forces on the joints (hips, knees, shins, low back, etc.). No running shoe has ever been shown to reduce forces on the joints. Less cushioning and less drop is likely good for you long term.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You were so wise to transition to zero drop slowly. There’s so much risk in dropping down too far too soon. Running shoes, like many aspect of running (and life) is evolutionary. The shoes I ran most of my marathons in (Mizuno) no longer works for me. I’m glad you found something you like!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I tried transitioning to lower heel-toe drop shoes a few years ago and it did not go well for me. My achilles and calves were so tight and painful I’d have to stop in the middle of runs. Finally I got rid of the shoes and went back to my 10-mm drop shoes. Low- or zero-drop shoes do not work for me, but I’m glad they work for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure that everyone is different. It’s good to try because you never know. It’s depends on how you run. If you heel strike or not. I think I run more on mid foot to toes.


  5. Thank you for sharing your shoe journey! It’s really such an experiment to find the right pair of running sneakers. I also wish that companies wouldn’t completely change their shoes from version to version. That is what happened to me with Mizuno and why I made the switch to Brooks.


  6. I knew Topo was lower drop so I wondered about that since you’d been so emphatically against them.

    I obviously do like zero drop, but I can’t wear them all the time either so I go back & forth between them & more cushioned shoes.

    Oddly enough I never signed up for Topo, but recently they started to send me emails. Which is kind of annoying.Wondering what email list they bought.

    Always great to find a shoe that works for you!


    • I don’t remember being against Zero drop. Unfortunately you can’t buy Topos or many Altras around here. Low drop has nothing to do with cushioning. It’s the heel vs the toe. Topos and Altras have models with cushioning (Topos Phantom and Altra Torin Plush) but the toe box isn’t as wide. Hokas have lots of cushioning but not low enough drop. Once I’ve adjusted to low drop, I won’t switch back which is why I gave away my Mizunos & Brooks. I don’t want that pain again. As you know, everyone is different. If your feet don’t hurt, you’re doing something right.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think there are lots of benefits to wearing low drop (or zero drop) shoes, as long as the transition to them is slow! I’ve struggled with finding the perfect shoe for awhile. Brooks seems to work best for me, and for a long time I wore the Pure Flows that have a low drop. Then a few of the models weren’t as comfortable so I went to the Levitates and now Glycerins. Both have more of a drop but just feel more comfortable to me. I also wear the Hyperion tempos for faster runs and thats a much lighter shoe with a lower drop. Glad you found something that has helped with your foot pain!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So hard to find the right shoe. If it works for you then it’s right. I am hoping this works…who knows??? My runs are so slow and easy now. Once racing starts I may have to change it again.


  8. Yay! I love zero drop shoes. I walk around barefoot all the time, and they just feel more natural. I don’t run in them, because I do need a little more stability for distances, but I do tend to prefer something with a lower drop.

    Liked by 2 people

    • runswithpugs Walking around barefoot is good foot strengthening, and if you take it up a notch and do some barefoot exercises or do a little bit of barefoot running, you should be able to not need stability for distances. In the meantime, you can get shoes that leave your foot in barefoot position (foot-shaped and zero drop) while still maintaining stability, like the Altra Paradigm or Provision. Good luck out there!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am glad to hear that you have found shoes that work for you. I know you’ve struggled due to your foot pain.

    I dislike it when companies change their shoes. Brooks has done that with a few of their styles but so far I think what I have now works for me. We’ll see how long that lasts.

    Thank you for linking up!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Over the years–30 some running years!–I’ve been on a similar shoe journey. I ran in Nikes forever, dabbled in Adidas, and then fell in love with Asics. I ran in Asics for years until they changed my shoe. After that it was trial and error–I ran in Mizunos until they changed those. Finally ended up in Brooks, which I love. I did try Saucony once, but the zero drop did not work for me.

    I’m glad that you found your shoes. I truly wish shoe manufacturers wouldn’t mess with the basics–the reasons we choose their shoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know!! It’s hard enough without the shoes changing on you. For now, they feel good (at least for one foot). When I start racing, they may not work. We’ll see. Glad you found yours too.


    • FYI Saucony doesn’t make Zero Drop shoes. The most important thing when getting a zero drop shoe is to match the cushion/support level to what you are used to. That way you are only changing one variable and you don’t have to worry about adapting super slow.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Darlene thanks for sharing your journey, good stuff! A few thoughts:
    -Your foot pain reduction was likely partially due to Zero Drop, but mostly due to having a shoe that’s actually shaped like a healthy human foot, so your toes can spread and not pinch the nerves in between your toes. Try Correct Toes to get your toes back to their natural shape faster ( )
    -You DO have to be REALLY careful and slow transitioning to less cushioned/minimalist/barefoot style shoes, HOWEVER, if you get a zero drop shoe with the same amount of cushioning and support you are used to, then you can transition pretty much right away. Human bodies are used to having drop being varied—for example walking up stairs or a steep hill is like a negative 100mm drop.
    -I believe Zero Drop Footwear is the best long term solution for the vast majority of people. After all, we are born zero drop, we get out of bed every morning zero drop. With no other body part do we literally DEFORM it out of its natural position and expect good things to happen long term. Most foot and joint pain builds up over decades from these deformations, and then get set off by some event.
    -Arches actually work when you’re in barefoot position, including in a well cushioned zero drop, foot-shaped shoe. However, when you wear 98% of all traditional shoes, the elevated heel and tapered toe box make it nearly impossible for your arch to work properly, and arch support is necessary. Ironically, humans existed throughout all human history without modern footwear, and didn’t need arch support as a result.

    Liked by 2 people

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