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New Balance Heel Drop and What it Means for You.

New Balance Heel Drop and What it Means for You.

 "The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." -Leonardo da Vinci


Heel drop or heel-to-toe drop is calculated by taking difference between the heel height and forefoot height. The heel drop of New Balance footwear will traditionally fall between 0mm to 12mm depending on the model.

This article will help you better understand heel drop and discover your own personal preference.

Understanding Heel Drop

You can think of heel drop as the difference in cushioning between the heel and the toe. A traditional running shoe will usually sport a heel drop of approximately 10mm. By design this will cause your heel to strike the ground first while promoting a smooth motion through the rest of the foot. If you are more comfortable with mid-foot strikes a lower drop would be recommended. When selecting footwear with lower heel drops it is important to remember that a lower drop will cause more strain on the Achilles tendon ; we will discuss this later on.

See the below diagram for a visual representation of heel-to-toe drop:

 12mm vs 10mm heel drop

Most Common Heel-to-Toe Drop Heights

Running shoes are often categorized by the level of heel drop they have. The three most common categories you will encounter are barefoot (0mm drop), minimalist (0mm - 4mm), and moderate (4mm - 12mm). 

Barefoot Shoe: 0mm drop

Barefoot running shoes attempt to mimic the natural position and feel of shoeless running. This running philosophy has gained substantial popularity in the last decade, in part, thanks to Christopher McDougall's novel Born to Run. The argument for barefoot running is quite extensive but mainly agues that proper form is more easily obtained the closer our feet are to shoeless. 

Minimalist Shoe: 0mm - 4mm drop

The demand for low drop (below 4mm) running shoes has also exploded due to the barefoot running movement. Minimalist running shoes while still allowing for natural movement also provide additional support and cushioning. Minimalist running shoes can be a great intermediary step for runners looking tor reduce their drop gradually. 

Moderate Shoe: 4mm - 12mm drop

Moderate running shoes are, by far, the most common running shoes manufactured and used. Due to the bigger drop a heel to toe running method is promoted. 

Deciding What Heel Drop to Get

What is the Drop of Your Current Shoe?

If your shoes are going to be used predominantly for running you should always be careful when changing drop heights. Differing heights place differing levels of stress on the Achilles tendon. Changing heights to quickly can lead to injury and discomfort. 

We suggest runners check what their current running shoes drop height is and match that. For example, if your current shoes have a heel drop of 8mm, your safe range for new shoes is between 4mm and 12mm. Remember never run through pain.  

Where Does Your Foot Strike?

A higher drop height inherently means your heel will have more padding. This promotes a heel-to-toe running method. While debated, this technique is still very popular and valid. If your prefer to run heel-to-toe then a higher drop height might provide additional comfort and stability through the movement. 

If you prefer a more midfoot strike running technique than a lower heel drop is advised. In lower heel drop shoes your forefoot, Achilles and calf muscles are used to absorb impact as apposed to the padded heel. 

Are You Considering Changing Heel-to-Drop Heights?

Often runners decided to change their heel drop height in combination with a change in running style/technique. If you are considering changing from heel strike to midfoot strike then a reduction in heel-to-toe drop height will will be beneficial and vice-versa.

Once again your should remain cognizant  of the stress low drop shoes place on your Achilles if you are not adjusted and adapted to them. Slowly reducing drop heights, beginning with short runs, and alternating between your new and old shoes is recommended.

The reiterate never run through pain. Listen to your body.

Have You Had a Professional Fitting?

Just as important as selecting drop height is purchasing shoes that fit. A professional foot fitting helps ensure that proper space, support, and stability are present. A foot fitting will measure both the length of the foot and the width in order to minimize pinch points while matching the ergonomic shape of your foot. 

If you are located in Calgary, or southern Alberta we recommend you visit one of our 6 Sole to Soul locations and get a free foot fitting. If you do not, inquire with your local running stores.

Selecting the Right New Balance Shoe 

0mm Drop New Balance Recommendation:

New Balance doesn't currently make any 0mm drop footwear. That doesn't mean their isn't quality zero drop options. We recommend:

Men's Vapor Glove 4

Men's Vapor Glove 5


A minimal trainer that provides little between you and the ground for maximum freedom and connection under your feet. No midsole and no drop - just your feet, a grippy sole, and the ground. Features Merrell's Barefoot 2 construction for enhanced proprioception and stablilty through any movements you can muster.

  • Breathable mesh with TPU overlays for durability.
  • Hyperlock TPU film heel counter keeps your heel locked down.
  • Recycled mesh lining is breathable and wicking.
  • Bellows tongue keeps debris out.
  • EVA insole with recycled top sheet for underfoot comfort.
  • Vibram® EcoStep rubber (30% recycled content) outsole with 2mm lugs for grippy and durable performance.
Available at MEC

4mm Drop New Balance Recommendation:

New Balance's Minimus training shoe line offer's 4mm drop footwear that works great for running, weight lifting, and other athletic endeavors. 

New Balance Minimus TR Women's

Minimus TR


Style #: WXMTRLK1
 172 grams (6.0 oz)
  • Lace closure for a snug, secure fit
  • Mesh upper designed for a lightweight feel and enhanced airflow
  • Midsole with full rubber coverage delivers added cushioning for enhanced comfort and impressive support
  • Minimus construction and premium liners allow for a sock-free training session
  • No sew overlays provide a sleek fit and feel
  • TPU-infused design and reaction-diffusion engineering for exceptional durability
  • Underfoot rubber for unmatched traction and a stable base
Available from New Balance

10mm Drop New Balance Recommendation:

For 10mm Drop footwear our suggestion from New Balance is the famous 880. The newest version the 880v11 just released and our customer are loving it!


New Balance 880v11


The Women's New Balance Fresh Foam 880v11 is a proven workhorse of a running shoe for the everyday. Featuring a super soft Fresh Foam midsole to provide a plush underfoot ride and a responsive top-bed foam to create a soft experience, this shoe will help deliver top-notch comfort. With engineered double jacquard mesh to allow for an intuitive, soft fit, your stride will feel free and unrestricted.


  • 10 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 10 mm drop are approximate

  • Fresh Foam midsole cushioning is precision engineered to deliver an ultra-cushioned, lightweight ride

  • Engineered double jacquard mesh upper for breathability

  • Molded external heel counter helps control heel movement

  • Molded footbed increases comfort

  • Blown rubber outsole at the forefoot for superior durability

  • Lace closure ensures a secure fit

Shop Now at Sole to Soul

12mm Drop New Balance Recommendation:


New Balanace 990v5

New Balance 990v5


With a legacy that spans over three decades, the 990 blends the perfect combination of cushioning and stability.
  • Materials: Pigskin/ mesh upper
  • Outsole: Blown rubber outsole
  • Type: Cushioning
  • ENCAP® midsole technology provides support and maximum durability
  • Dual Density Collar Foam
  • ENCAP PU Ring with EVA Core
  • 12 mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 12 mm drop are approximate
  • Made in the USA (Premium Collection)
  • Weight: 320 grams (11.3 oz)
  • SKU: W990GL5
Shop Now at Sole to Soul