What is a shoe offset? Does a high drop make a difference to your running activities?
There are many concerns and confusions when it comes to a shoe offset.
I’m here to clear things up so you know what to look for when shopping for your next shoe, so you can finally be comfortable and have the perfect sneaker.
A major myth is that a low offset is for flat feet and a high offset is for high arches.
Although there is some truth to it, it is not the end all be all because there are different variables that come into play.
I’ll explain everything below.
What is an Offset?
A shoe offset is often known as the heel-to-toe drop or midsole drop found in running shoes.
It is the height difference (in millimetres) between the heel and the toe area.
There are shoes with no drop at all.
Typically the higher the offset, the more cushioning there is in the heel area to absorb the impact of the landing.
Whereas shoes with little-to-no offset has the cushioning distributed evenly around the midsole.
What’s the difference?
Everyone has different preferences, as some might enjoy no offset because they find it more comfortable, and others might enjoy a high offset for that extra cushioning in the heel area.
How Does it Affect Running?
Everyone is different. A high arch can find a low offset comfortable, and the same goes vice versa.
The biggest factor that determines offset?
It’s whether or not the person strikes the ground with their heel first rather than their midfoot or forefoot.
Anything over 6mm is good for people that land on their heels.
6mm and under is good for those that land on their midfoot or forefoot.
What Offset is Best Suited For You?
When you consider the fact that most people land on their heels first, then a heel-to-toe drop of 6mm or more is probably best for you.
But if you land with the midfoot or forefoot first, a much lower drop is more preferable.
This is because you don’t need the extra cushioning in the heel area that the higher offset shoes provide.
You could take it one step further by going with no drop at all.
Altra does this with all their running shoes, they call it ZeroDrop.
They promote a more natural running experience because there is no increased heel height when running barefoot.
However, the only way to know if you like it is to try it out yourself.
Everyone is different and it comes down to what makes you more comfortable.
Should You Worry About Heel-to-Toe Drop?
Not really. There is too much variables that determine comfort. It is not the end all be all.
Comfort will always be the biggest factor when it comes to shoes.
Heel drop is good to know because it gives you a guideline on what you should be aiming for, but a difference in your current drop height isn’t a huge deal.
However, keep in mind that a drop more than 4mm should be slowly transitioned by wearing them a few times a week and not every single day.
This will allow your body to get use to the new movement pattern, which is a good thing as it helps reduce repetitive stress injuries caused from the same movement over and over again.
How Important is Offset?
Is offset so important that you should be looking for a specific drop when purchasing new shoes?
It might seem incredibly important and make the difference between very comfortable and not comfortable at all.
But to be honest, switching offsets is a good way to train your body in new ways while reducing the stress of repetitive movements.
Every time you switch up your offset, your body has to adapt…training your calf muscles differently, working your archilles, and teaching your body to run more efficiently.
There are far more benefits by switching up your weekly running routine with different offsets than simply sticking to the same thing for years and years.
There is absolutely no evidence that a heel drop affects injury rates.
And yes there have been studies about it.
Heel drop is not that important and it’s good to switch things up to train your body in new ways.
Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it might not be the heel drop at all.
It could be the type of shoe you’re wearing.
But again, only you know what works for you and what you find comfortable.
So that concludes this article on heel offset and how it affects you (or lack thereof).
I hope you learned a lot and if you have any questions or concerns please ask me in the comments below 🙂