Zero drop minimalist shoes are all the rage right now. Unfortunately, just because a shoe has zero height differential — between the ball of the foot and heel — doesn’t mean it will work for you.
Case in point: One patient I saw today is an ultrarunner who switched from a structured shoe to a zero drop minimalist style two years ago to reduce unilateral infrapatellar pain. Fortunately, the pain resolved, but within the last several months he started to experience increasingly painful peroneal (outer foot) pain and medial (inner) meniscal knee pain. He did not have either pain prior to training in the zero drop shoes.
A quick evaluation of his zero drop shoes, identified an hourglass-shaped midsole/outsole.
The arrow shows the narrow midsole width and the rectangle shows how much of his midfoot was only being supported by the upper (25%). This significant lack of support mid-arch caused his arch to negatively drop below the plane of the heel and forefoot, altering his knee and foot mechanics enough to produce compensatory pain in other areas.
The following image shows the top view of his foot in the shoe. As you can see the grey midsole disappears from the entire arch — and this is where support is needed the most.
If you’re running in minimalist or zero drop shoes, you will still want to match the shoe to your foot type — otherwise new injuries can occur.
JC came in with a pair of DZR shoes today to be worn with his new custom orthotics, and I’ve got to say I’m impressed. Designed as an Urban Cycling Shoe, DZR is hip enough to wear even if you don’t cycle.
DZR has the style of a skater shoe, without added forefoot flexibility — which is great for hallux limitus, sesamoiditis and metatarsalgia. For cycling, the outsole can be modified to accept Shimano SPD cleats for a clipless pedal ride, as the following video shows. Ingenious.
I previously posted a review on Altra Instinct and was contacted by AltraZeroDrop as follows:
“Interesting review. A couple of things as I consider what is being said here. First, The Instinct is a neutral shoe and is sold as such. The Brooks Adrenaline is a motion control shoe. To compare the two with a pronator is not a fair comparison. To look at an Altra shoe that offers some pronation support please check out The Provision. This runner obviously needs some medial support and thus The Instinct may not be the best option right off the bat. As they strengthen their feet over time maybe.”
My reviews are based on the shoes that runners wear in, and the Instinct is the only shoe I’ve seen from Altra. In this runner’s case, he purchased the Instinct based on it’s “wider,” more supportive appearance, only to develop forefoot pain.
Altra’s website promotes Altra zero-drop footwear as “reducing forefoot pain, excessive pronation, IT Band pain, runners knee and shin-splints.” These claims are made independent of Altra model or style, but are instead specific to the zero-drop platform. So, based on these general design claims, this particular shoe should have worked for this particular runner.
My primary goal for doing shoe reviews is to reduce injury by educating runners about their foot type and alignment, and teaching them how to apply this to their shoe purchases. I agree that runners need to match their foot type (pronated, wide, etc.) to their shoes and I’m pleased that Altra offers a stability model.
I have asked Altra to send me a pair for review. I’ll keep you posted.
I have had several runners in my office asking me to evaluate to evaluate their Altra™ running shoes. As much as I want to recommend this shoe, I just can’t. There are too many runners for whom the fit and structure of this shoe is incompatible, as the following video shows.
A trail running shoe I like a lot. Features include a wide forefoot, firm heel counter, and torsional stability. Many running shoes that are wider in the forefoot are correspondingly wide in the midfoot and heel, but the Solomon XR Mission is not.
This XR Mission also has a firm, thick midsole, which helps with shock absorption, as the following field review video shows.
New Balance 813 is a lightweight cross training shoe, as the following field review video shows.
I generally recommend a good running shoe for cross training — however, if you do not excessively pronate and need expandable forefoot volume, then this shoe might just work for you. New Balance 813 has minimal “hourglass” in the waist, is torsionally stable and has a firm heel counter which increases overall support.
Mizuno Wave Creation 13 is a stable, well-structured shoe as the following field review video shows.
This shoe is torsionally stable, has a firm heel counter and an inflexible forefoot making it a perfect choice for those runners who excessively pronate. The generous use of mesh throughout the forefoot makes this shoe lightweight and forgiving where runners need it most.
The only problem with this shoe is it runs 1/2 size long based on heel-to-ball length with a correspondingly short toe box, so you will want to be careful when evaluating size. Other than that, Wave Creation 13 is a great shoe.
Mizuno Wave Enigma is categorized as a neutral running shoe, but has much more structure than a typical neutral shoe.
Important features include torsional stability and a firm heel counter, both of which help prevent excessive pronation. The forefoot is moderately flexible, but sufficiently cushioned to aid shock absorption. The waist of the Enigma is also wide and doesn’t “hourglass” in, making this one of my favorite Mizuno’s this season, as the following field review shows.
One of my least favorite shoes this season. Although Wave Inspire 8 provides great support and structure, it’s oddly narrow in the forefoot and wide in the rearfoot. This design makes Wave Inspire 8 incompatible with a normal foot type, as the following field research video highlights.
I previously reviewed Asics GT-2170 and compared it to Asics GT-2160. The following video is a field review of Asics GT-2170, which has changed significantly from Asics GT-2160. Although GT-2170 fits the same volume-wise as GT-2160, structure-wise, it no longer supports the excessively pronated foot.
I’ve previously reviewed Mizuno® Wave Nirvana 8 but wanted to add my recent field review as well. Important note — this version runs approximately 1/2 size smaller than the listed size, so you will want to evaluate length when assessing fit.
I like this shoe, however, it won’t work for every foot type as the following field research shows.
I’ve previously reviewed Brooks Ravenna 3 but wanted to add my recent field review. Brooks Ravenna 3 provides a great fit for the rectangular foot. It’s lightweight and cushioned for the neutral runner who doesn’t pronate excessively.
ProGrid Omni has always been a solid shoe. For the past several versions, it has offered a rectangular shape and significant anti-pronation control — including a firm medial midsole, firm heel counter, and torsional stability.
Version 11, however, has reduced pronation control due to increased midsole cushioning (thickness) and less torsional stability.
This makes for a comfortable shoe with a trade-off in less durability and faster wear. In addition to the change from support to cushioning, the upper has also changed from a more fitted style to a more boxy style with a deeper toe-box. For some runners, this may predispose them to a less secure fit than previous models as the following field research shows.
Other ProGrid Omni Reviews:
Brooks has done it again, with the introduction of the Adrenaline GTX, all terrain, trail shoe.
Adrenaline GTX is more rugged than Adrenaline ASR due to the Gore-Tex, waterproof, upper membrane. This shoe is also extremely stable, which is especially helpful during muddy or wet running conditions.
Additional features are highlighted in the following video.
Asics Gel Foundation 10 is similar to version 9 in that it is highly structured and torsionally stable, with a firm heel counter and an inflexible forefoot.
The differences between version 10 and version 9 have to do with volume. Version 9 was available in narrow, whereas version 10 isn’t. Version 9 was also more shallow than version 10 which will affect those runners who choose this shoe based on volume.
For all other runners, as the following video shows — this remains a great shoe.
Mizuno Wave Alchemy 11 is one of my favorite shoes. It’s supportive and structured without being heavy. Wave Alchemy 12 is equally supportive — but runs narrower than version 11 as the following video shows.
The differences between Brooks Ravenna 3 and Ravenna 2 primarily involve volume and cushion. Version 3 is deeper, has more volume and fits less snugly than version 2. Ravenna 3 also has a softer midsole, which is great for cushioning but not as durable as version 2.
Overall, Ravenna 3 is a great shoe, however because of the changes with version 3, you will want to try on and confirm fit prior to purchasing. Video comparison between the two versions can be found here:
Here’s my previous post on Brooks
Asics Gel-3030 fills a much needed void left by Asics GT-2160. Torsionally stable, with a firm heel counter and an inflexible forefoot, Asics Gel-3030 is an ideal shoe for those runners wanting serious support or pronation control. The only downside — it’s only available in medium width. Apart from that, it’s one of my favorite Asics shoes this season.
Reader Paula asks –
Although you haven’t reviewed the Asics Gel Nimbus 13 for women, I wanted to comment on it, since I’ve had a strange experience. I bought a pair about a year ago in the Lightning/White/Magenta color, size 10 M. They were very cushioned and fit pretty snugly. Just a month ago, I replaced them with another pair of Asic Gel Nimbus 13 in the exact same size, but this time I got the White/Lightning/Turquoise color. The new color fits differently and has less cushioning! It is wider and deeper, and the sole feels harder. The magenta ones felt like running on marshmallows, and the turquoise ones don’t have the same spring. They are really uncomfortable. Can you shed any light on this? Do shoe companies change the construction of the shoes based on color? This seems crazy to me.
Concerned that Paula’s question might be true, I tracked down Asics Gel-Nimbus 13 in both colors. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the shoes were slightly different even though they had the same name. Hopefully, this is just an aberration due to different manufacturing facilities and nothing to worry about. Otherwise, we’re all in trouble as there will be no consistency even within the same version of shoe. Here’s my video analysis of the same model shoe in two different colors.
Soccer cleats do not come in widths, which can make it difficult to obtain a good fit. Since many medium width cleats will run either wide or narrow, you can use a side-by-side comparison to identify volume differences between different pairs of shoes.
The two pairs of cleats below illustrate a narrow lasted cleat on the left, Adidas Predator Absolion TRX , and a wide lasted cleat, Nike Mecurial Victory II, on the right. The differences in width are highlighted.
Comparing the uppers, notice how the throatline (opening) of the Nike is so much wider than the Adidas. Also notice the difference in toebox shape and width. The Adidas is more tapered around the toes and the Nike is more rounded, accommodating a wider forefoot.
In evaluating the lower, you can see how much wider the forefoot and waist are in the Nike than the Adidas as well. If you have been having difficulty finding the perfect fit, using this method should help. These principles also apply to other shoes (tennis, basketball, football, etc.) that only come in medium widths.