Low Heel to Toe Drop Causing Achilles Issues?

Just recently I was experiencing achilles pain in both left and right achilles. The pain would be the most severe in the morning and right after running. It wasn't severe enough to actually quit running, but it was unnerving and had me worried it would lead to something more severe or chronic. I decided to take matters in my own hands, probably not the best idea, but I am stubborn and I have a bunch of races coming up and preparing for mileage build up for two planned fall marathons.

First, let me give you a little history to help explain how I got here and what I did. I have been running in minimalist/low heel to toe drop shoes exclusively for almost two years, including several mileage build ups leading up to fulls, halfs, 30K's, etc. I transitioned slowly and had no issues except sore calves. I am a neutral midfoot striker and consider myself to be a biomechanically efficient runner. I average approximately 40 miles per week and really haven't changed much in my training, although I am running much faster now than when I first started running in minimalist/transitional shoes.

Okay enough about that, here's what I did: I self diagnosed myself (I know, again not a good idea) with the onset of achilles tendinitis and I figured I would try to mix in a pair of higher heel to toe drop shoes a couple times a week to give my achilles' a break. A few weeks ago I purchased a shiny new pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 16's (I know, I know...) from my LRS. I figured if was going to go higher heel to toe, I would go all the way...LOL. I also figured that I would get something firm and responsive. I'm digging firmer shoes nowadays (absolutely LOVE my Fastwitch!).

To make a long story longer, guess what? No more achilles pain!! Still running in low and zero drop shoes (just PR'd a half in the Fastwitch), and just mixing the Wave Riders in a couple times a week. I actually like them a lot. Firm, responsive, narrow heel, and wide forefoot. And I actually, to my surprise, have no problem maintaining a forefoot/midfoot strike.

I am NOT a doctor, just saying...


  • Sounds like exactly what I am doing. Even down to Wave Rider 16s being my non-minimal shoe in my mix.
  • I would just make sure you trigger point out your calf muscles big time I even roll on a softball to keep them worked out.
  • My physiotherapist blames my tight calves for most of my other ailments, so plenty of trigger point, rolling, massage and stretching is the order of the day.
  • No harm mixing things up, I do it all the time! Ran in the adidas Boost the other day since my calves were barking after the marathon. Served a purpose even though I'm not a big fan of the shoe.
  • Zero drop shoes "feel" better to run in but I learned a lesson also after 2 years in minimal shoes and now I do heel lifts 3 times a day. We forget that we get older. And I realized I better compensate and do daily strength routines. Hoping that will keep me injury free so I can still run low drop.

  • Just an update. Been doing the Achilles strengthening program I found at runners connect.org and my Achilles is good again. I will not forget strength training from now on!
    Now I just hope my Morton's Toe problems can be fixed. Working on it!
  • Just stumbled across this while researching a bit. I've been dealing with what sounds like the exact type of Achilles tendonitis issue in my left foot.  I have a forefoot strike and have been running almost exclusively in Kinvaras over the last 2-3 years but am now thinking I could use a higher heel.  However, I've tried 8mm drop shoes in the past and hated feeling my heel hit the ground. Is there a more cushioned 0-4mm drop shoe that might give me enough of a heel lift when I strike the ground? 

    Am trying to gather a list of options I may want to try at my local running store so I'd welcome any and all recommendations!
  • You might try Skechers Go Ride
Sign In or Register to comment.