With the growth of awareness about personal weight and health, everyone strives to work out, walk, run, or perform some kind of activity to get in shape. To do these activities ideally, you need great comfortable shoes, and what’s better than zero-drop shoes?
I will describe the Top 5 Makers of Zero Drop Shoes in this article. They are Altra, Merrell, Vibram FiveFingers, Xero, and Vivobarefoot. Many brands are manufacturing zero-drop shoes but these are the most trusted brands with years of experience that have good ratings from customers.
Today, medical professionals and experts agree with the statement that foot-shaped shoes are comfortable and improve the body’s functionality and performance, especially for runners. Let’s find out what makes these zero-drop shoemakers top performers for a healthy shoe for your feet.
The Altra running shoe organization, founded by Golden Harper, has been active in the industry for quite a few years now. Let’s discuss a little about how it came into being. So, Harper was working at his Dad’s running store, where he started to transform some of the running shoes.
He used to cut the shoes, remove the padding out of the heel, and seal the sole using a toaster. Initially, many runners got injured because of wearing those shoes. With time he modified the shoes and came up with zero-drop shoes. And now, Altra has become one of the best and the most popular brands for making zero-drop shoes.
There are several reasons why Altra zero-drop shoes are so popular and loved. Still, the best thing about Altra Zero drop shoes is that they allow your feet to perform the way they were intended to.
These shoes have a foot-shaped toe-box, which helps the feet strike the ground naturally and provides actual cushioning. They are so focused on natural footstrike that they actually patented the term – Zero-drop.
Each Altra shoe has the Zero drop feature, which means the forefoot and the heel have an equivalent height from the ground, and there is no elevated heel. This feature avoids the heel striking and encourages midfoot or forefoot strike, which helps you align your entire body and reduces the force traveling through your body.
Altra offers different kinds of shoes for various purposes. Some of them come with extra cushioning, e.g. Paradigm, and some have moderate cushioning, such as intuition/instinct.
Extra cushioning on your zero-drop shoes makes for an exceptionally soft forefoot. This extra cushioning is often needed for runners suffering from foot injuries.
ALTRA Women’s Instinct 4.5 Sneaker
ALTRA Men’s Instinct 4.5 Sneaker
The best Altra zero drop shoes are Instinct (men)/Intuition (women). These shoes do not have any trail running features, extra cushions, or stability features; instead, they are moderately cushioned zero-drop shoes. These shoes are neutral trainers with a wide toe box, which is what actually runners are looking for.
You might want to get your Altra zero drop shoes for a number of reasons. Their shoes are perfectly flat from heel to the metatarsals, much the same as your foot when you don’t have any shoes on.
The only difference is that Altra gives padding and assurance from the components to which your feet are exposed. Some of the Altra zero drop shoes have a lot of cushions, and some have a little, but the primary goal of Altra is to make you and your feet comfortable.
They want you to enjoy the benefits when you walk, run, or play but don’t compromise on comfort level.
Merrell is an American company established in 1981 by Randy Merrell, Clark Matis, and John Schweizer. Clark Matis and John Schweizer joined forces with Randy Merrell to launch a new maker of hiking boots. They set out to develop affordable boots with high performance and grew them in 1982. Merrell Company distributed its first item in the market in 1983 to a pair of East Coast retailers.
Merrell produces a wide range of heel-to-toe drop minimalist shoes from zero-drop profiles to 6mm. If you are beginning on minimalist running, picking higher drops is suggested, as you still need some cushioning to become accustomed to ground contact. But if you feel comfortable practicing minimalist runs for months, you can go for their zero-drop shoes.
Minimalist shoes are usually lightweight as fewer materials are being used in their build. But if you still want to do well in racing and workouts, go for Merrell zero drop shoes that have a weight of fewer than 200 grams. These shoes may improve your speed record as they won’t drag you down when running on tracks.
You might go for Merrell zero drop shoes as they promote natural flexing for runners. This flexibility would help you in pursuing natural running movement while giving you full comfort. Merrell zero-drop shoes provide you a balance of support and flexibility.
Merrell zero drop shoes are less cushioned and provide you an immediate ground connection. The material used in their zero-drop shoes is “BLOOM” sustainable algae-based foam. Merrell zero drop shoes are flexible and light, but you can use them if you have hard landings.
One of the best Merrell zero drop shoes is Merrell’s fourth Trail Glove 5 released in 2017. This shoe mimics the foot’s natural motion. It is suitable for twisty, paved, uneven sidewalks because of its quick adaptability to any terrain.
Robert Fliri was a design student and wanted to invent an enhanced shoe to move around in nature. Vibram was founded by Bramani and Fliri, who was a foot anatomy researcher and designer, in 2004.
Bramani had a company that belonged to his grandfather; he introduced Fliri to the company to design a great shoe.
This is how Vibram was born, and later on, Vibram introduced FiveFingers patented glove-styled revolutionary shoes in 2005. They had produced a high-quality, innovative, and best-performing shoe.
Initially, these shoes were made with yacht racers in mind, to provide them shoes that maintain their grips on slippery decks. Later on, these shoes were mainly used for running, fitness, trekking, water sports, yoga, and other sports.
Vibram developed FiveFingers to allow the foot to move naturally, allowing the body to operate as it performs barefoot while shielding with Vibram rubber soles. The sole is built with a type of rubber that besides being thin in nature, it provides maximum flexibility and protection.
Different materials are used in Vibram FiveFingers, depending on the style of the shoe. The most common material is Vibram TC-1 performance rubber used in the soles. For the footbed, the antimicrobial sock liner is being used, and a thin stretch for the frame of the shoe.
Vibram FiveFingers has replicated barefoot by using thin and flexible soles to contour the shoe’s shape, with individual sections for each toe.
You might be interested in buying a pair for yourself as it has become quite popular in the market. The main reason is its ability to allow the toes to move individually. Also, it allows a full range of motion of the forefoot, midfoot, and rearfoot with zero drop.
You might want to get your hands on Vibram as they are comfortable and light even in short runs and make your running experience even better and more fun. It has a zero drop and will make you feel close to the ground.
If you aren’t used to FiveFingers, there is no need to worry as it is so easy to fit in, and you can quickly work out with the shoes.
Steven Sashen was a high-school sprinter who got back into the sport after taking a break of 30 years. He joined a barefoot running club at a friend’s suggestion, and due to this, his injuries abated.
He wanted to continue the barefoot running in areas where shoes were required, so he designed his own huarache-style sandal, which had a thin rubber sole.
He first made these shoes for his wife and for himself, and later on, he got requests from his friends. In 2009 he launched a website to sell these DIY sandals, and in 2012 these shoes were given the name Xero shoes.
These shoes are excellent for runners as they have a removable insole, roomy fit, flat sole, and are available at a reasonable price. If you are interested in buying a shoe that looks conventional and performs well, it’s the best option for you. Xero shoes are vegan-friendly and durable as they are free from animal products.
Xero Shoes are lightweight, comfortable, and are built for speed. These shoes have a firm grip and flexible support for the foot’s natural movement.
An additional feature in these shoes is the natural fit that gives them a wide toe box to let your toes relax, spread, and move naturally. If you wear these shoes, you will feel that your feet can flex and bend naturally because of the flexible sole. The zero drop in these shoes allows for a proper posture, and the low-ground design encourages balance.
The first VIVOBAREFOOT shoe with an exclusive, ultimate thin puncture-proof sole was released after the apex of 5 years of research and devolvement. The shoe was intended to provide sensory feedback and foremost safety with the idea to help the incitement of Proprioception.
My experience with Vivobarefoot is that they are amazingly flexible and live up to their claim. It is the best option for you as they are breathable, flexible, packable, stylish, comfortable, and lightweight.
A human foot works in a biomechanical manner. But can shoes prevent efficient movement? We have limited the capability of our feet and their ability by packing them into a modern shoe.
A human foot has 200,000 nerves, but by limiting the sensory feel of the ground, you suppress the sensory feedback to the brain and limit the foot’s communication with the brain. This prevents accurate movement of the foot.
Vivobarefoot manufactures shoes from thin puncture-proof soles with zero-drop. They are deliberately designed to be wide, so your toes can get a strong base of support. This “foot structured” design gives liberty to your feet to move the way nature intended it to. It provides the necessary support to your feet regardless of whether you’re climbing over rocks or running on a road.
Top 3 Picks
Each brand has its own specialties and features which make them unique from the others. But for now, let me tell you my top 3 favorite brands for zero drop shoes, and these are Altra, Vibram, and Xero. Here are some of the reasons that I have chosen these shoe brands.
Altra is unique as no matter how much cushioning is there in the sole, it still maintains a zero heel-to-toe drop. Each pair of shoes designed and created by Altra has two unique features: the Zero-drop and the Foot-Shaped toe box.
Their zero-drop shoes have spacious toe boxes and approaches to stability. The goal is to give your feet dynamic support and stability when it’s needed. Also, you get a variety of Altra zero-drop shoes (e.g. some of their zero-drop shoes are exclusively designed for runners with knee issues.)
What makes Vibram different and unique from the others and how it made it to the top 3 picks is that anyone’s toes can fit into their shoes perfectly. There is always some space for your toes to relax and spread comfortably, and this design works for the majority of people.
If you truly want to get a feel for minimalist and zero-drop shoes, you should definitely give it a try.
Last but not least, the third pick is Xero shoes. As the name suggests, the Xero brand makes one of the best zero-drop shoes. Their shoes are vegan-friendly and durable. Their zero-drop shoes are flexible, lightweight, and perfect for fitness, trail running, road running, and hiking.
These shoes give you proper posture and give a wide toe box for your toes to relax. Feel free to try these barefoot-friendly shoes.
All these brands make great zero-drop shoes. At the end of the day, it’s your preference and taste for whichever shoes you are choosing. But always go for the ones that give your feet comfort, are durable, and last longer.
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