Are you curious about what shoe differential is and how that impacts which workout shoes you need for a particular workout? Keep on reading to find out all the details you need to know about the heel-to-toe differential. Wearing the correct shoes for your workout is key to avoiding injuries!
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.
What are the Shoe Differentials of Workout Shoes?
Here’s a quick guide to various kinds of shoes:
Minimalist shoes: 0-1 mm
Weightlifting shoes: 0-2 mm
Crosstraining or CrossFit shoes: 4-7 mm
Running shoes: 8+mm (usually up to 11 mm)
What is Heel to Toe Drop?
Learn more in this short video below:
What about Minimalist Shoes for CrossFit?
If you take a look around your CrossFit Gym, you may notice lots of people with minimal, or barefoot shoes. These shoes have a minimal drop to them and help you to maintain your natural gait, unlike traditional running shoes. Do zero drop cross training shoes work well for Cross Fit? Let’s find out.
Perks of having minimalist running 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’re a serious runner, you’ll need to seriously consider whether or not this style of shoe will work for you. However, many trail runners love these things and will never go back to a traditional pair of sneakers.
What are the Best Minimal CrossFit Shoes?
That’s a great question and we’re happy that you asked. You can see some of our top picks for zero-drop cross-training shoes in this handy comparison chart below:
What about Cross-Trainers and Heel-To-Toe Differential?
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. However, many people prefer to use Cross Training Shoes or specialized CrossFit shoes.
Cross-Trainers May Work Better for You than Minimal Shoes
Some people have better results with cross-trainers like the Nike Metcon 4, or Reebok Nano 8 that have a heel to toe drop of around 5 mm. This is a nice balance between flat enough for lifting, but high enough for running, sprints or jumps.
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.
Nike Metcon Heel Drop
A common question that people have is about the Metcon heel drop from Nike, a popular choice for a CrossFit shoe. It’s 4 mm, which is a nice balance between a higher heel to toe drop like in a running shoe and a flatter weightlifting shoe. This means that the Nike Metcon is ideal for running, jumping, climbing, and lifting, all within the same workout.
Which Cross-Training Shoes do you Recommend for CrossFit?
You can see some of our top picks here:
What about Running Shoes for CrossFit?
Running shoes have a shoe differential of around 10 mm. This is to help your foot propel forward with each stride. It’s all about forward motion when running and this differential will help you do that. It may seem like a small difference: 5 mm vs 10 mm differential, but over the course of a marathon? It makes a huge difference.
There’s also a ton of support and cushioning in the midsole to minimize the impact of your feet on the pavement. However, there is no support laterally, which CrossFit workouts may certainly require.
Are these shoes ideal for CrossFit? Generally no. They are too high for serious weightlifting and also don’t make that ideal or a choice for something like jumping or rope climbing.
Learn more here: What’s the Difference Between CrossFit Shoes and Running Shoes?
Can I Use Weightlifting Shoes for CrossFit?
Like minimalist shoes, lifting shoes also have a close to zero shoe differential. This greatly assists with squats, deadlifts, and all weightlifting moves for that matter. They’re a bit higher cut than most shoes and come up almost right to the ankle. Do these specialized shoes work well for CrossFit?
We generally don’t recommend them. Although they are ideal for powerlifting and weightlifting, they are pretty terrible for jumping and running, as well as things like rope climbs. You may even find them uncomfortable walking to the gym in!
We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again! The ideal cross training sneaker or CrossFit shoe has a heel to toe drop of around 4-6 mm, not flat like these ones.
The Right Gear is Essential for CrossFit
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.
What is Heel to Toe Drop? Have your Say
Do you have any questions or thoughts about shoe differential? What kind of shoes help you have the ideal experience during a CrossFit workout? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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