Monday, February 16, 2015

Heel-Toe Drop - It Matters..

Yes.. the whole heel-toe drop thing has landed on my door-step.

Can't afford to ignore the topic given I have suffered two incidents of ankle sprains in the past 4 months. The last one I'm in the midst of nursing!

I put the blame on my own ignorance & over-confidence in the strength of my ankles & joints which I had previously thought were indestructible. Turns out they weren't!

I have been training in the Salomon XT Hornet in technical terrains because that's what this shoe is built for right? Sure, to a certain extent. The reality is - it's only half the story. While it is built like a tank, the mid & outsole are actually pretty stiff.. while this is great for durability, it also means it doesn't quite mold to the terrain much. Add the 10.5mm heel-toe drop, your heels end up pretty high off the ground & you're really putting strain on your ankles in compensating for the lack of stability in such technical terrains. Imagine cruising downhill, you'll effectively be increasing the heel-toe drop with the incline, throw in a random small rock along the path... lets just say you had better have ankles of steel. That was basically how I sprained my ankle on both occasions..double ouches.

So I learnt the hard way why shoe drops are important considerations for trail-runners. As well as checking how stiff the soles are (& how long they stay that way). I have scoured the internet since to read up & understand more about drops - so far an article in sums it up pretty neatly in this article, thought I'd share it here... so read up & be knowledged!

So what is the perfect drop? At the end of the day, that’s up to you. Your terrain, biomechanical needs, and personal preferences determine your ideal combination of drop, cushioning, and support. The “minimalist movement” isn’t defined by the lightest, lowest drop shoe you can find; rather its all about finding the least amount of shoe you need to enjoy running efficiently and injury free. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Higher drop shoes (10mm+) lower the levels of active cushioning required by the body and quicken the toe-off. In other words, the impact of your stride requires less tension in you foot/arch/ankles/calves/knees/quads, and immediately rolls your foot forward to toe off. The trade-off: these shoes can be heavier, less stable in technical terrain, and make active cushioning muscles weak and injury prone (i.e. IT Band Syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and patellar tendonitis).

Lower drop shoes (0-8mm) allow more arch and ankle articulation for better trail feel and are generally lighter, with less material. However, they also require increased active cushioning (muscles and tendons you use running barefoot to cushion your stride), and require a runner to power through their turnover with their own feet.

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