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What is heel-to-toe drop and does it matter?

Heel-to-toe drop, or simply “heel drop,” is the difference in distance (in millimeters) between the heel height of a shoe and the toe height of a shoe. Heel to toe drop is always measured from heel to toe. For example, an 8mm heel to toe drop means that the heel of the shoe is 8mm higher than the toe.

Heel drop matters for walkers and runners alike, because of how it affects a person’s gait, biomechanics, and injury risk. There are pros and cons to both options, based on the person and their activities.

For instance, a lower drop tends to put the foot in a more natural gait, yet it can put more pressure on the lower leg and foot. This can help strengthen your feet over time, but needs to be done slowly to avoid injury. A higher drop can help evenly distribute weight through your body and help absorb heel strike in running, yet may not develop the deeper intrinsic foot muscles quite as much as a lower drop.

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