7 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes + 6 Benefits & Risks (2024)

7 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes + 6 Benefits & Risks (1)

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Zero drop running shoes hit new heights of popularity in 2023.

It’s not hard to see why.

While running is arguably one of the most minimalist sports on the planet, there’s at least one piece of equipment you absolutely need: running shoes.

For well over a century, the technology behind these shoes has been improving, but not everyone is on board.

Over the last decade, more and more athletes have decided that barefoot running is a preferable alternative to the traditional version.

But instead of actually running without any shoes on, these athletes have made the switch to zero drop shoes.

What Are Zero Drop Running Shoes?

Are they Good for You?

What About Minimalist Shoes?

How Do They Differ from Regular Shoes?

The 6 Main Benefits of Wearing Zero Drop Running Shoes

2 Potential Risks of Wearing Zero Drop Running Shoes

How to Transition: 4 Tips

The Final Word on Zero Drop Running Shoes

The 7 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes

What Are Zero Drop Running Shoes?

The definition of zero drop running shoes might be A LITTLE up to interpretation, but one aspect is nonnegotiable: they feature no drop whatsoever.

But what does that mean?

Every shoe’s sole is designed at a downward angle from the heel to your toe.

This is actually known as your “heel-to-toe drop”, which – on average – is 10mm for a running shoe. For conventional and dress shoes, it can vary significantly more. Obviously, high heels would be an example of an extreme heel-to-toe drop.

On the other end of the spectrum are zero drop shoes.

These shoes have ZERO heel-to-toe drop. Their soles are completely flat.

For many people, trying on their first pair of zero drop shoes is a bit of a shock. They never realized that their favorite pair of shoes actually have a dramatic heel-to-toe angle compared to a shoe that has none at all.

It’s not that they’re uncomfortable – though they will take some getting used to – it’s just that the vast majority of us have gone through our entire lives wearing shoes that tilt our feet forward as we walk or run.

The idea behind zero drop shoes is that maybe this angle isn’t such a good idea?

Proponents believe that we should be walking around with our feet in their most natural state – even when we’re wearing shoes. By getting rid of any heel-to-toe drop, the argument goes, you can move around as nature intended even when you’re wearing shoes to work, out with friends, or running a trail.

In short, you can walk or run like you’re barefoot while still keeping your feet safe and protected.

Every shoe’s sole is designed at a downward angle from the heel to your toe.

This is actually known as your “heel-to-toe drop”, which – on average – is 10mm for a running shoe. For conventional and dress shoes, it can vary significantly more. Obviously, high heels would be an example of an extreme heel-to-toe drop.

On the other end of the spectrum is zero drop shoes.

These shoes have ZERO heel-to-toe drop. Their soles are completely flat.

For many people, trying on their first pair of zero drop shoes is a bit of a shock. They never realized that their favorite pair of shoes actually has a dramatic heel-to-toe angle compared to a shoe that has none at all.

It’s not that they’re uncomfortable – though they will take some getting used to – it’s just that the vast majority of us have gone through our entire lives wearing shoes that tilt our feet forward as we walk or run.

The idea behind zero drop shoes is that maybe this angle isn’t such a good idea?

Proponents believe that we should be walking around with our feet in their most natural state – even when we’re wearing shoes. By getting rid of any heel-to-toe drop, the argument goes, you can move around as nature intended even when you’re wearing shoes to work, out with friends, or running a trail.

In short, you can walk or run like you’re barefoot while still keeping your feet safe and protected.

Are Zero Drop Running Shoes Good for You?

While everyone is different, the consensus – from wearers and experts – seems to be that zero drop running shoes are definitely a good idea.

But if you've experienced issues with foot pain, arch support, etc., be sure to check with a physician first. Depending on how long you've been wearing "normal" shoes, the change can be an extreme one.

That being said, we'll be reviewing the benefits - and potential drawbacks - of zero-drop shoes a little later.

Are Zero-Drop the Same as Minimalist Shoes?

Zero drop running shoes are hugely popular, but another type of shoe that’s become mainstream in recent years is “minimalist shoes.”

Given their name, many people assume that zero drop and minimalist shoes are probably the same thing.


But minimalist shoes may have a heel-to-toe drop all the way up to 8mm. As we mentioned earlier, running shoes tend to be closer to 10mm. Conventional footwear will usually be 10mm or higher.

And despite their name, many minimalist shoes have extra cushioning to help new adherents deal with their otherwise minimalist traits.

But again, zero-drop shoes have no drop or cushioning at all.

Their heels have absolutely no elevation to them.

So – technically – zero drop shoes fall under the minimalist category, but not all minimalist shoes are zero drop.

How Do Zero Drop Running Shoes Differ from Regular Running Shoes?

Okay, so we’ve already talked about this to some degree, but let’s look at some other important details to help you better understand how zero drop running shoes stand out from the rest.

Aside from the lack of any heel-to-toe drop (compared to the 8-14mm average you’ll find across most shoes), zero drop shoes are also more flexible than other options.

This is another big difference you’ll have to get used to if you decide to switch to this footwear. Because there’s less material propping up your heel, these shoes also allow for a lot more movement. You might be surprised how much flexion the sole of your foot has when you try running without a large cushion between your feet and the ground.

That lack of material is also why zero drop running shoes don’t weigh as much, but I’ll elaborate on that in the next section.

Finally, conventional shoes actually have a more minimalist design when it comes to their toe boxes – the part of the shoe where your toes go.

That’s because the larger toe boxes on zero drop shoes work to give your toes the space they need to function naturally. By tapering this area, conventional shoes force your toes into a tight space. Among other things, this unnatural positioning can cause bunions

The 6 Main Benefits of Wearing Zero Drop Running Shoes

Now that you know what zero-drop shoes are, are you interested in making the switch to wearing them?

If so, I’ve included some important pointers at the end of this post to help you with the process.

However, if you’re still on the fence, it might help to consider the six biggest benefits of wearing zero drop shoes.

1. Zero Drop Running Shoes Support a More Natural Running Gait

As we’ve already talked about, a big benefit of wearing zero drop running shoes is that it allows you to run as if you were barefoot.

But why’s that so important?

Well, the big reason is that it will also make it easier to run with a more natural gait.

Proponents of these shoes would argue that most people’s running cadence is hindered by the unnatural position their feet are put in by conventional running shoes.

Zero drop shoes allow them to run more effectively – resulting in faster times – but also run more naturally, too.

This means a low-impact running gait, one where the middle of the foot lands first instead of the heel.

Many experts believe that landing heel first creates all kinds of health problems for runners. And yet, conventional shoes – with their elevated heels – practically force runners to step on the ground this way.

2. Zero Drop Running Shoes Disperse Impact Better

This isn’t to say that zero drop shoes mean zero impact.

Your foot still needs to touch the ground and if you’re running when that happens, there’s going to be plenty of impact, too – even if you’re not landing heel first.

But another big benefit of wearing zero drop shoes is that they do a better job of dispersing that impact, so it’s absorbed throughout your entire leg. With traditional shoes, the brunt of that force is sent right to your knees, which can cause major problems over time.

This healthier running gait protects your knees by ensuring that your calves run interference for them. Those muscles are designed to take this kind of impact over and over again. Your knees aren’t.

3. Zero Drop Running Shoes Will Give You a Natural Feel

There’s that word again: “natural.”

For many people, this is enough of a benefit to switch to zero drop shoes.

As I mentioned earlier, putting this footwear on for the first time often provides a bit of a shock, but that’s not a bad thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll even be uncomfortable.

In fact, you might immediately realize the appeal.

And for a lot of people, that appeal is the sense that their feet are almost touching the ground with every step. You might feel as though your toes are really able to spread for the first time, especially when you run. Don’t be surprised if the soles of your feet feel like they’re pleasantly expanding, too.

Many proponents also believe that this kind of natural freedom-of-motion gives them a greater sense of stability, too – something that’s always welcomed during long runs or other athletic activities.

4. Zero Drop Running Shoes Are Lighter Than Conventional Shoes

Like I said earlier, zero drop shoes don’t weigh as much as the kind you’re probably used to wearing.

It’s not hard to find a pair that weighs less than 7 oz. Compare that to the average weight of a running shoe, which is 9.4 oz.

Of course, the kinds of shoes you wear to work and for nonathletic activities probably weigh considerably more.

This is another reason zero drop shoes lead to a more natural gait. By shedding this extra weight, you’ll be able to move a lot more freely.

Obviously, this is a big plus for competitive runners who are looking for any advantage in their pursuit of the fastest possible run times.

But everyone should be avoiding shoes that are too heavy as they can lead to a whole host of problems – affecting everything from your joints to your tendons to your muscles. Even your lower back – a major problem area for many of us – can take a serious beating if you’re walking around in shoes that are too heavy.

5. Zero Drop Running Shoes Will Make Your Feet Stronger

There’s evidence that suggests conventional shoes are actually weakening your feet – this even includes running shoes and others designed for sports.

On the other hand, zero drop shoes may make your feet stronger.

Without the artificial help provided by shoes with arch support, your feet need to work harder for every step – whether you’re walking or running. This leads to stronger feet but also stronger ankles and legs, too.

As one study on minimalist shoes concluded:

“Minimalist shoe walking is as effective as foot strengthening exercises in increasing foot muscle size and strength.”

Remember that “zero drop” falls under the “minimalist” category of shoe here.

6. Zero Drop Running Shoes Reduce Injuries

Not surprisingly, stronger feet are less prone to injuries.

Although there are no long-term studies specific to zero drop shoes yet, there is plenty of research that proves strong feet are a great investment in your overall health.

And, as we just covered, zero-drop shoes definitely give your feet a workout.

But that’s not all.

To return to our favorite word, by allowing your foot, ankle, and leg to work NATURALLY, zero drop shoes don’t force any part of your body to pick up the slack. These types of unnatural workarounds are often the catalyst that leads to unnecessary pain and suffering.

2 Potential Risks of Wearing Zero Drop Running Shoes

At this point, it may seem like the verdict is in. The jury has spoken. The evidence is clear: zero drop shoes are amazing and are the only footwear you should ever entrust your feet to.

Unfortunately, not everyone is sold on their benefits.

Even worse, some of those people are really smart.

So, before you rush off to purchase a pair for yourself, I want to cover two of the common arguments against wearing zero drop shoes.

1. Our Feet Weren’t Designed for Hard Surfaces

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of the support for wearing these unique shoes is based on a very specific word.


Time and time again, I’ve referenced how proponents for zero drop shoes base a lot of their support on the idea that this footwear is the only option that lets you move around naturally.

The counterargument is that the hard surfaces we walk and run on aren’t natural, either.

Think about it.

Cavemen probably didn’t spend a lot of time on concrete, cement, or hardwood.

In fact, many podiatrists recommend wearing shoes even when walking inside your own house.

So, when it comes to running around a track, down the street, or on a court, these podiatrists are even more adamant about this advice.

Their reasoning is that our feet were not designed to make impact with these surfaces again and again, which is why sufficient arch support is so important. Without this extra help, your foot may be forced into unnaturally collapsing again and again, placing a terrible amount of stress on your feet and everything above it.

While many people wear zero drop shoes to avoid potential problems like arch pain, hammer toes, bunions, and other foot-related pain, detractors actually believe they do the exact opposite. By leaving our feet defenseless against hard surfaces, they argue that these nagging injuries become inevitable.

2. Some People Grew Up with “Minimalist” Shoes

What about all those incredible runners who have basically always worn “minimalist” shoes simply out of necessity?

For example, many runners switched to zero-drop shoes after learning about studies that focused on the success of long-distance Kenyan runners.

But what many podiatrists argue is that these men and women also grew up wearing shoes that are a far cry from the padded, supportive versions that have become the norm elsewhere. They also didn’t grow up running on concrete or cement.

This means their feet are stronger and more adept at being able to run without these bulky shoes. For those of us who didn’t grow up with the same conditions, switching to minimalist shoes may be a major mistake.

How to Transition to Zero Drop Running Shoes: 4 Tips

That being said, if you’re still curious about trying out zero drop shoes, you need to take the transition slowly. Switching from typical running shoes to those with no heel-to-toe drop carries the risk of injury if you’re not careful. After all, it’s a big adjustment.

So, before I finish, let’s cover some expert tips you’ll want to follow to keep your feet safe.

1. Start Small

Even if you’re someone who regularly goes for long runs, you’ll want to take it slow when you first switch to zero drop shoes.

This means no running right away. Instead, start by walking around in these new shoes first, so your feet can acclimate to this major change.

Start with about a half-mile and see how your feet and legs feel the next day. If you’re up for more, go ahead and make incremental increases.

Be sure to do lots of stretching – especially of your calves – while transitioning to these new shoes.

Once you’re able to do 30-60 minutes of walking in zero drop shoes without any discomfort the next day, you can start running – albeit slowly.

2. Practice Landing on Your Midfoot

As we’ve mentioned, switching to zero drop shoes will mean switching your normal running form, too.

Specifically, you want to begin landing on your midfoot first and then letting your heel touch the ground.

A big part of this transition will mean taking shorter strides, too, which means your running cadence will increase, as well. These shorter strides will make it easier to focus on landing midfoot first.

It sometimes helps to imagine running “quietly” because the goal is not to let the soles of your feet slap on the ground over and over. Landing on your midfoot should keep this from happening and give you a “quieter” overall stride.

3. Increase Your Distance Slowly

After a few easy runs, it might be tempting to return to your typical distances, but experts recommend you take it slow. In fact, you probably shouldn’t increase your running distance by anymore than 10% per week. Once you’re back to running at your normal range, you can afford to be a little more ambitious.

While being patient during this time can certainly be challenging, it’s essential. Expect that it will probably take you four-to-six weeks before you’re covering your normal distances again.

The good news is that you should only have to go through this process once. After your feet have acclimated to zero drop shoes and you’ve adjusted your stride, you’ll be able to continue with normal training.

Bonus Tip: Try Wearing Toe Spreaders

If you’ve been a serious runner for more than a decade or so, wearing shoes with a narrow toe box may have resulted in some of those common problems we’ve mentioned – things like bunions, hammertoes, or plantar fasciitis.

In that case, wearing zero drop shoes may agitate these problems or cause even worse injuries.

While you should definitely speak with a podiatrist, look into toe separators, too. These little running accessories will stretch your toes, which in turn will strengthen them, as well as your muscles, ligaments, and joints. Realigning your anatomy this way will restore their natural functioning and can even reverse some of these common injuries.

The Final Word on Zero Drop Running Shoes

Are zero drop shoes the best possible choice for every single runner?

It’s tough to say.

But plenty of runners certainly feel that making the switch has led to better times and – more importantly – healthier bodies. This includes people who love “natural” running, trail running, road running, track running, and even those who just want a nice pair of shoes to wear around town without intrusive souls providing unnecessary arch support.

So, if you’re someone who’s been injury prone in the past or you’re you simply want to take some steps (no pun intended) to ensure that doesn’t happen, zero drop shoes are definitely worth a shot.

And with that said, let’s look at some of the best options in 2023 for both men and women if you’re interested in this type of running shoe.

The 7 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes

Alright, if you’re sold on the benefits of zero drop running shoes, let’s talk about your options. While the market is constantly growing, here are your current best options for sneakers with zero drop in 2023.

Joomra Zero Drop Running Shoes

Weweya Barefoot Shoes Men Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe

Whitin Women's Wide Canvas Shoes

Whitin Cross-Trainer Barefoot Shoes

Xero HFS Running Shoes

Altra Men's Solstice XT 2 Road Running Shoe

Altra Men’s Lone Peak Low-Trail Running Shoe

1. Joomra Zero Drop Running Shoes – $39.99

Joomra actually makes a couple zero drop running shoes that are worth checking out if you love the idea of a running shoe that is super affordable but would also look okay for other daily activities.

The Joomra Men's Cross Trainer epitomize the balance between natural movement and modern design. With a zero-drop outsole, this fun sneaker promotes a natural gait reminiscent of running barefoot. Crafted with a rubber sole for durability and a premium knit & mesh upper, they guarantee lightweight flexibility and breathability. Unique features like a wider toe box allow the forefoot to spread naturally, while the removable insoles provide tailored arch support, ensuring even weight distribution. Coupled with an ethical production process that's animal-free, Joomra offers both comfort and conscience in one sleek package. Whether you're hitting the trails or the streets, these shoes redefine the minimalist running experience.

And for the ladies, Joomra’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes are a VERY popular choice.

With a sturdy rubber sole, they ensure an ideal mix of traction and durability, perfectly attuned to unpredictable terrains. Their circular lug patterns aren't just aesthetically pleasing. They also offer exceptional grip, making every movement secure. Integral knitted upper structures bestow a light, breathable feel, while the thicker topline ensures the shoe wraps snugly, preventing any unwanted slips during intense exercises.

Removable insoles cater to foot arches, distributing weight evenly and relieving pressure. True to their "minimalist" moniker, these shoes aim to emulate the freedom of barefoot walking, offering a harmonious blend of natural movement and modern innovation.

2. Weweya Barefoot Shoes Men Minimalist Running Cross Training Shoe – $39.99

If you’re looking for a zero-drop shoe that has a little more padding, check out the Weweya’s Barefoot Running Shoe.

Despite the extra protection this sneaker still features plenty of the hallmarks of other popular running shoes with zero drops.

They’re made with a mesh body and a robust rubber sole, this shoe offers both breathability and durability. At its core is the minimalist barefoot style design, aiming to closely replicate the raw, natural sensation of running barefoot. This design nudges users into a gradual adaptation, slowly immersing them into a healthier foot movement. Setting it apart, the wide toe box safety design shuns separate toe slots, letting your toes splay naturally, echoing the true "barefoot style" without the risk of toe discomfort. A unique tongue-less design ensures a snug fit, further enhanced by a tightening shoelace system, which provides a genuine "second skin" feel.

A standout feature is the removable arch support insole, crafted with zero-drop styling. While it offers some support, its primary aim is to strengthen the user's own foot muscles and bones, veering away from the over-support found in traditional running shoes. The wide toe box finger design amplifies toe freedom, creating ample space for unrestricted movement. And with the non-slip rubber sole, users can expect increased friction and an authentic feedback sensation from the ground. The shoe also boasts premium breathable memory arch support insoles, ensuring minimized arch pain and maximized comfort. Lightweight, flexible, and easy to carry, Weweya's shoe isn't just about running; it's about redefining how we interact with the ground beneath us.

3. Whitin Women's Wide Canvas Shoes – $41.99

If you like zero drop running but want a pair of shoes that you can also wear comfortably from day-to-day, Whitin has a great pair for you.

Their Women's Wide Canvas Shoes are designed for zero-drop enthusiasts who love the look of canvas footwear, especially because each of the five colors they come in are extremely affordable.

With a carefully crafted rubber sole, these shoes are built for durability. They seamlessly blend minimalist design with classic aesthetics, thanks to the custom lace-up soft canvas and low-top design. The refined stitching details and round toe further contribute to its sleek, fashionable look.

However, it's not just about aesthetics. These women’s running shoes also have that nice wide toe box you want, allowing your toes to spread naturally and freely, promoting better foot health and balance.

The shoe's thin sole ensures women can truly connect with the ground, enhancing the tactile feedback with each step. Its zero-drop heel is essential for maintaining proper posture, reducing undue stress on the feet and joints. The sole is also impressively flexible and slip-proof, providing a barefoot sensation that many users crave.

There’s an almost identical pair of these Whitin men’s running shoes, although men can choose from 10 different colors.

4. Whitin Cross-Trainer Barefoot Shoes – $43.88

Let’s look at another fun zero-drop option from Whitin: their Men’s Cross-Trainer Minimalist Shoe.

It’s a masterstroke in footwear design, harmonizing the principles of natural biomechanics with the rigors of cross-training. At its foundation lies a rubber sole, meticulously crafted for durability.

One of its standout features is the padded rear collar, designed specifically to provide Achilles comfort, ensuring that extended wear doesn't result in strain. And the 5 mm POWER FOOTBED enhances the comfort quotient, cushioning every step, while its engineered knit upper guarantees a snug, sock-like fit, adding to its flexibility.

But it's not just about comfort.

These sneakers’ zero-drop, non-elevated sole is a nod to maintaining correct posture and balance, crucial for rigorous training regimens. When it comes to tackling challenging terrains, the sticky-grip rubber outsole steps up, offering unparalleled grip and durability. The wide anatomic toe box is a game-changer, allowing toes the freedom to spread, enhancing balance and stability. The shoe’s thin, flexible sole ensures wearers receive vital feedback from the ground, a key aspect of proprioception, while the flat zero-drop design champions a neutral foot position. This not only aids in fostering a healthy posture but also minimizes joint stress.

Whitin also has a very similar version of this popular minimalist zero-drop shoe, as well.

5. Xero HFS Running Shoes – $124.87

Another big name in the minimalist shoes space that makes a great zero-drop option is Xero.

The Xero HFS Running Shoes are a beacon of modern shoe design that marries comfort with peak performance. Crafted with a rubber sole and shaped to echo the natural contour of human feet, these shoes feature a spacious toe-box, ensuring toes have room to splay and spread, mimicking the freedom of barefoot movement.

Their Xero Drop sole redefines posture and balance by being non-elevated and staying close to the ground, ensuring every runner maintains agility and balance with each stride. The patented 5.5mm FeelTrue sole, reminiscent of tire treads, is not just about protection; it's about feeling the ground and transmitting those tactile sensations to the brain, enhancing the running experience.

Committed to sustainability, these vegan-friendly shoes use zero animal products. And with a nod to durability, Xero backs its HFS shoes with a 5,000-mile warranty. What's more, their flexible nature allows for easy packing, making them a traveler's best companion. Lightweight, breathable, and boasting a removable 3.5-millimeter insole, these shoes are tailored for road running but versatile enough for any adventurer.

And once again, Xero also makes a similar pair for women, the Speed Force Barefoot Running Shoe.

6. Altra Men's Solstice XT 2 Road Running Shoe – $129.95

Finally, let’s talk about the Altra Men's Solstice XT 2 Road Running Shoe.

Altra has made a name for itself by creating super comfortable zero-drop running shoes.

So, really, you probably can’t go wrong with an Altra shoe. While these are great for men’s running of all kinds, we’ll also cover another option that’s fantastic for trail running next. But the entire list of “best zero drop running shoes” could probably all be from Altra – as long as you don’t mind spending a bit more.

Anyway, the Altra's Men's Solstice XT 2 Road Running Shoe is a shining example of engineering precision meeting athletic needs. Grounded with a robust rubber sole, this shoe promises longevity. At the heart of its design is Altra's signature Balanced Cushioning combined with the FootShape toe boxes. This unique duo ensures that toes have ample space to spread out, fostering natural foot movement and encouraging a low-impact running form, a key to reducing potential injuries.

The engineered mesh uppers stand out for their dual benefits: they are not only lightweight but also offer commendable breathability, ensuring feet remain cool and dry during intensive activities. The Solstice XT 2 doesn’t stop there. Its InnerFlex midsole technology propels it to a different league, offering enhanced flexibility and performance, ensuring each stride is optimized for energy and speed. Furthermore, the firmer upper, complemented by toe reinforcement, ensures durability without compromising on flexibility. With Altra's commitment to excellence, the Solstice XT 2 is a choice for runners who are keen on merging comfort with peak performance.

Altra makes a great version for women, as well: the Women’s Lone Peak 3.5 Trail Running Shoe.

7. Altra Men’s Lone Peak Low-Trail Running Shoe – $155.03

Finally, let’s talk about what Altra brings to the market for people who love the feel of natural running shoes when taking to an outdoor trail.

Again, there are a ton of great options from Altra, but most runners seem to agree that the Altra Men’s Lone Peak Low-Trail Running Shoe is the best (though we did recently post about Nike's barefoot shoes, which include some fantastic optoins if you love the natural feel).

It’s a true marvel for trail enthusiasts, seamlessly integrating innovative features and technology to provide a superior running experience. The foundation of the shoe is its durable rubber sole, built to withstand rugged terrains.

One of its standout features is the proprietary Altra EGO foam, designed to offer both a responsive feel and energy return, ensuring each step propels you forward with renewed vigor. Pair this with Altra's signature balanced cushioning and those unique FootShape toe boxes, and you get a shoe that not only maximizes comfort but also promotes a low-impact, natural running form.

Yet, what truly sets the Lone Peak Low-Trail apart is its unrivaled focus on traction. The MaxTrac outsole, complemented by a multi-directional TrailClaw lug pattern, ensures a tenacious grip on diverse terrains, letting runners concentrate solely on the trail ahead.

And for those who brave inclement weather conditions, Altra has embedded a weather-resistant eVent bootie. This ensures feet remain dry, even when the trails are soaked, providing an edge in wet conditions. In essence, the Lone Peak Low-Trail isn't just a running shoe; it's a commitment to uncompromised trail performance, no matter the weather or terrain.

Unsurprisingly, the women’s version of this shoe – the Altra Women's Lone Peak 3.5 Trail Running Shoe – is also extremely popular among female runners who want a natural feel during outdoor runs.

Did We Miss the Best Pair of Zero Drop Running Shoes?

Did we leave any out?

At Runners, we’re always willing to update our posts when we get comments from readers about their own opinions and preferences.

So, if you think we’ve missed any zero drop shoes that you think should be on the list OR you think our list of benefits and drawbacks were missing any important ones, please let us know!

ps. Check out our recent post about the best toe socks for barefoot running, as these are also great for wearing with zero drop shoes.

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7 Best Zero Drop Running Shoes + 6 Benefits & Risks (2024)


What are the disadvantages of zero drop running shoes? ›

Zero-drop shoes are generally safe for most people. But give yourself time to properly transition into them. The shoes can cause a midfoot strike instead of a heel strike. And research shows it may put more stress on your Achilles tendon.

Why do podiatrists not like zero drop shoes? ›

Walking with little to no support as with zero drop shoes on hard surfaces allows our foot to collapse which can lead to a tremendous amount of stress not only to the foot but to the rest of the body.

Is there a negative drop shoe? ›

Negative heel shoes are shoes that have the heel lower than the forefoot so that when standing or walking in them, the plane of the forefoot is higher off the ground than the heel. The original brand to introduce the negative heel was the Earth Shoe in the 70's where they were widely adopted at the time.

Are zero drop shoes bad for your back? ›

A zero-drop shoe is simply one that doesn't have a variance in height between your heel to your toe. Again, there may still be cushioning around your foot to give you support, but your heel-to-toe ratio is protected. These are both great shoe options that won't aggravate your back pain further.

Do zero drop shoes cause foot pain? ›

Running in zero-drop footwear activates your lower legs differently and changes how your feet hit the ground. Your muscles and tendons need to adapt to this change, so expect some discomfort until you adjust to this new way of moving.

Are zero drop shoes bad for knees? ›

Zero drop shoes have a higher correlation to injuries that occur in the lower leg and foot, while traditional running shoes cause more injuries to the hip and knee. So, based on the research, there is no golden shoe that's going to make you faster and injury free.

Do zero drop shoes cause calf pain? ›

One of the most common complaints runners have when they transition to zero drop shoes is soreness in their calves after running. This is due to the fact that the foot now has to lower all the way to the ground instead of having the heel built up 2-13mm off the ground.

Are zero drop shoes bad for pronation? ›

"Although not everyone with flat feet suffers from foot pain, people with flat feet overpronate, which means their arch collapses for abnormally long periods of time during the gait cycle." Thanks to the lack of support their arches are getting from zero drop shoes, this prolonged overpronation can lead to plantar ...

Are Hokas zero drop? ›

They aren't complete opposites however: Hokas aren't zero drop but do tend to be very low drop (4mm for Speedgoats, 5mm for Cliftons), they are neutral shoes too with less structuring than other models and both brands started off in the ultra trail running world.

What are the healthiest shoes? ›

The healthiest footwear for both older and younger adults should fit well and have a low, broad heel, a thin and flexible sole, and some kind of lace, strap or Velcro to ensure the shoe stays firmly attached to the foot, he says. Sandals and flats often fit this description, though many don't.

How do you break in zero drop shoes? ›

To avoid injury, it's important that you start by only running a small fraction of your usual weekly distance in your new shoes. Then, with every passing week, you up the percentage of the total mileage you do in the new shoes.

What heel drop is best for hips? ›

“In general, a shoe with a higher drop will be easier on the lower leg—foot, ankle, Achilles, calf—while directing more stress to the knees and hips," Beverly says. “A lower-drop shoe will typically spare the knees but put more stress on the lower leg."

What heel drop is best for walking? ›

Runners need shoes with a higher difference in height from the heel through the toe called the heel drop, while walkers should choose shoes with a heel drop of less than 8 millimeters.

What drop is best for running shoes? ›

More than 6mm drop: regular drop, recommended for runners whose foot meets the ground with the heel first (the majority of runners). Less than 6mm drop: low drop that is getting close to a barefoot stride. Best suited to runners who run regularly and whose forefoot or midfoot hits the ground first.

Is it better to run with zero drop shoes? ›

These shoes encourage a more natural gait, which can reduce the risk of injuries for runners with appropriate mechanics. However, there you have to make sure that zero drop shoes are right for your foot, your body, and your running mechanics.

Why are podiatrists against barefoot shoes? ›

Because of the lack of heel cushioning, minimalist shoes have been associated with an increased incidence of heel (calcaneal) fractures, especially in high arched, rigid foot types.

Are zero drop shoes bad for the knees? ›

Zero drop shoes have a higher correlation to injuries that occur in the lower leg and foot, while traditional running shoes cause more injuries to the hip and knee. So, based on the research, there is no golden shoe that's going to make you faster and injury free.


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