Importance of Heel-to-Toe Differential in a CrossFit Shoe


We often see diets that tend to mimic the “natural” way. This is why the Paleo diet is becoming popular. In CrossFit, there is also a trend wherein people are using CrossFit shoes that have minimalist designs. Minimalist designs pertain to the 4 mm even-to-zero heel-to-toe differential. In fact, if you look at the shoes these days, most of them allow your feet to walk almost in a natural state.

Heel to Toe Differential in a CrossFit Shoe

What is Heel-To-Toe Differential?

For runners, the heel-to-toe drop is important due to the correlation between heel strike and performance. Heel strike is the most likely movement that people do with shoes that have a high heel-to-toe differential.

Before any further discussion, what is the heel-to-toe drop? It is defined as the difference between the forefoot and the heel. A zero heel-to-toe drop means that your foot is more or less at the same height as the ground. For instance, if you see a 9 mm heel-to-toe differential, this means that there is an elevation of 9 mm.

Perks of having minimalist shoes

According to research, shoes with a low heel-to-toe differential are said to make the foot land on either the midfoot or the forefoot. According to expert runners, running on your forefoot means that you can run more efficiently. Now, this is interesting for the world of CrossFit. The minimalist designs are now running rampant among gyms, especially for those who perform box jumps and running activities.

For CrossFit, a high heel-to-toe differential could promote injuries on your knee as this lessens your stability. Once you are injured, there could be a long way to recovery so it’s important to try to prevent injuries in the first place.

Dangers of minimalist shoes

But of course, you should not just buy any kind of shoe with a zero heel-to-toe differential. There is a challenge when it comes to shoes with minimalist designs. According to health professionals, minimalist shoes can tend to do damage to your feet and even on your tibia. If you are performing long distance barefoot running, based on the study, this could fracture your bone due to stress. This means that you need to still have the proper cushion despite the fact that you need to have the perfect form that brings the foot to its natural state.

If you are doing CrossFit, having the right gear makes a big difference in the long run. With CrossFit shoes becoming popular especially for enthusiasts who want to maximize their results and gains, it is a good idea to know everything about the jargon, like heel-to-toe drop.

There are instances when there’s so much more to the new discoveries and technologies. There are times when there is a negative side effect that is waiting to be discovered. In the case of minimalist shoes, a number of people never saw it coming. Finding the right CrossFit shoe is challenging. In fact, different body types and requirements create different demands for people.

So, is it a good idea to stick with a zero heel-to-toe drop shoe from CrossFit? Yes, as long as it provides you with the right cushioning, especially if you’re lifting heavy weights. Everyone’s body is different and it really is up to you whether or not a minimalist shoe will work for you. It’s best to try out a few different shoes such as weightlifting shoes, minimalist shoes, and cross-trainers to find the one that is best for you.

Brian Westen

Brian Westen

Brian is a freelance fitness writer based out of Houston, where the hot, humid weather makes it difficult to exercise outdoors. To help his city get in shape he decided to start incorporating fitness tips in his weekly blog. Once he discovered CrossFit, and the fact that the WODs can be easily done inside an air conditioned building he was hooked. Now he has made it his mission to get everyone in his city healthy and active with CrossFit.
Brian Westen

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