Can Zero Drop Shoes Cause Knee Pain? [ 7 Reasons Why You Should Wear Them]

Zero Drop Shoes cause Knee pain

Most shoes are usually designed in such a way that the heels are higher than the toe, so there may be some extra pressure on the ball of your foot. Zero-drop shoes place the ball of the foot and the heel at the same level.

This is actually how human feet work naturally while standing on a floor when barefoot. 

Studies suggest that zero drop shoes are helpful for your feet and joints, but if your feet are not healthy, it could result in knee pain. That being said, zero-drop shoes can make your feet stronger, result in proper foot alignment, and be more flexible. 

I have enjoyed using my zero drop shoes because they provide a platform for my feet to have a more natural alignment with my legs and the rest of the body. Let’s find out more about how these shoes can benefit you and what you need to do to avoid any problems with transitioning to this style of shoe.

When Can Zero Drop Shoes Cause Knee Issues?

Zero Drop Shoes Knee pain

Zero drop shoes may cause injuries to the foot and the lower leg while other running shoes may cause injuries to the hip and knees. No shoe is guaranteed to prevent injuries, especially if your pushing yourself hard.

You need to be careful when changing shoe types to avoid any injuries. Let’s discuss when and why zero drop shoes may foot injuries and knee issues.

  1. If you research on the internet, you can find out why runners might want to switch from a traditional higher heel shoe to a level zero drop shoe. Runners want to prevent injuries, and zero drop might help. 
    • But some runner switch shoe without doing enough research or asking for advice. Switching your shoe type suddenly when running, including using zero drop shoes, can result in injury. Your feet need to transition to a new shoe type slowly. 
    • Zero drop shoes are less likely to cause injuries and knee pain when you consult a professional runner or running shoe store associate with knowledge of how best to transition to zero drop shoes.
    • First, you need to determine your foot health, get your feet healthy with the proper shoe for your needs, and then slowly transition to zero drop shoes. Getting feedback from runners and professionals about your feet and their needs can be very helpful.
  2. If you transition too fast from a regular running shoe to zero drop shoes there’s a high chance you will recieve an injury or knee pain. It all depends on how use to this type of shoe flatform your foot is.  
    • Before transitioning to zero drop shoes, you can check: your arch type, your foot alignment, your running style (how your foot normally lands on the ground), and how long you usually run.
    •  If your muscles are usually tight this may mean your bone are out alignmentand. Changing shoe type may place a greater burden on the joints and lead to pain and injury.
    • How long does it take to get use to zero drop shoes? There’s not a set time period that it take a runner to get use to zero drop shoes. It all depends how long your feet and legs need to adjust to these new types of shoes.
    • When I first transitioned to my zero drop shoes (article link), I didn’t run. I walked in them and hiked in them. I could tell by running a bit that my feet needed a while to transiton to these type of shoes. 
  3. If your are runnin in zero drop shoes and you feel any pain in your muscles, joints, or tendons, take a break and reassess yourself. Muscle pain and onset muscle soreness are two different things. If you push yourself through the pain it can take longer to recover or result in unjury.
    • Muscle soreness is how your body tells you to take the necessary steps prevent injury and start to recover. This discomfort is usually seen as normal, so runners need to be aware of the differences between what will hurt them and what is just normal exercise.
    • Muscle pain is usually an idicator of a larger problem that needs to be addressed right away. Runners should not push throught this type of pain becasue it will likely lead to injury or futher injury.

Why Runners Use Zero Drop Shoes?

Why Runners Use Zero Drop Shoes

Runners swear off the benefits of zero drop shoes, especially minimalistic shoes that give runners a more natural running experience.  

Although caution must be used. There are lots of muscles in the foot, and they need time to adjust to a new shoe style. If you were doing squats with weights without proper training, you could get injured. Likewise, you won’t walk or run shoelessly without some preparation. 

After a transition period, while the foot is strengthened, the runner can use their zero drop shoes regularly.

What makes zero-drop footwear appealing to runners is that it gives them the benefits of both a barefoot running experience while giving them shoe padding.

This more natural foot position can help runners avoid injuries, just as long as they have worked up to strengthing their feet over time.  

Altra Shoes introduced the term “zero drop” which means shoes with no heel lift. The term “zero-drop” was invented with the idea that an unequal level of a shoe increases the probability of injuries.

The Benefits of Zero-Drop Shoes

  1. Zero Drop shoes are lighter, as less material is set beneath the outsole and the foot. This mass drop minimizes the pressure set on joints, muscles, and lower body to the back. Likewise, the level of exhaustion is also declined as less energy needed to lift and move the shoe during a walk or run.
  2. They improve the natural alignment between the foot and body because your heel and toe are on the same level. Zero drop shoes are built to balance in a better way, making the foot to gain natural strength.
    • They are designed to place feet on a level plane, making runners’ posture more stable and enabling them to run at higher speeds.
  3. They can allow natural movement. By permitting your feet to work as nature intended, zero-drop footwear may help improve the alignment of your bones in the foot, leg, and back. 
  4. By permitting feet to work naturally, zero-drop footwear reduces pressure on knees by dispersing the forces in the leg.
    • When your foot stricks the ground, zero drop shoes can minimize the effect on the knee and permit the foot muscles to turn your calves into shock absorber so they can disperse the forces which are going towards the knee, hip, pelvis, and back.
    • Several studies have shown that if heel and toes are on the same level, the ground reaction force is minimal, creating little pressure on joints, hence less chance of injury.
  5. Zero-drop prevents heel striking which is the main reason behind the knee problems. It also help you avoid a forward-leaning position, a position which “affects your posture negatively”.
  6. They will help gain ankle mobility, which helps reduce calf strain and improve the squat structure. Individuals who have problems regarding knee, back, lower leg, lower-back, shin, and hip, witnessed the drop in pain which vanishes ultimately.
  7. Zero-drop shoes can be used for many types of exercises as well. You can adopt a zero drop style for any exercise, activity, or movement.

How to Transition To Zero Drop Shoes?

Transitioning Over to Zero Drop

Zero drop shoes may seem interesting to you and piqued your interest, but remember different shoes have different effects on your performance. Each person knows what shoes work best for them. But the transition from a traditional shoe to zero drop shoes is a major change, so this transition needs to be done with care.

If you intend to get a zero-drop running shoe, make sure to transition gradually. You might think it’s a simple heel-to-toe height drop, and you don’t need any transition but that’s not true. You will see how it feels different after a shot run or two.

To transition to zero drop shoes, all you need to do is start with short and easy training periods. This might be walking, a short run, hiking, or gym exercise.

You might try once a week in the beginning. Use your zero drop shoes for a set of 100m striders or you can also use them for warm-up before you go in your run with the shoes your regular use. Then gradually start to use them more. Initially, you might go for a short trail run, an easy walk, or a recovery run.

Practice until you feel completely comfortable and then you can start using them for running. This process may take several months. While I had my shoes, I decided to use them for everything else but running, and my feet still received many of the benefits.

With proper time not only will your feet reap the benefits, but the process will also start to rewire your brain so that your running in a more natural way, which some say allows you to avoid injury better. The idea being that your feet, and therefore your brain, can sense how your running and adjust better to conditions, and avoid injury.

Three Reasons to Choose Zero Drop Shoes


Zero drop shoes aren’t just for workouts, some brands are now making zero-drop sandals, everyday sneakers, and running shoes as well. Wearing zero drop shoes as much as you can in everyday situations will help you to perform better when running.

Running as a sport has been the same for ages but the technology of the gear has changed a lot. Earlier running (article link) was always barefoot. People who have walked barefoot most of their life can also run that way, even for long distances, with training.

But now running has been completely changed, as it is done competitively. Special shoes with simple designs are made to protect the runner’s feet.

Now zero drop shoes are fairly mainstream to running, and merge the benefits and comforts of modern shoes with better natural anatomical movement, although each shoe has different arch supports (article link) and attributes.

Therefore, runners need to shop around till they find a good match for their needs.

Now that many runners have started wearing zero drop shoes, some of the major benefits they’ve seen are as follow:

Zero Drop Shoes heel and ball are level
  1. Wearing zero drop shoes can prevent foot, back, and knee pain because these shoes move the strain away from the knee to the calf muscles.
    • Zero drop shoes persuade you towards a forefoot strike by trying to get your feet to work more for absorbing shock. Regular shoes with high heel drops are more inclined towards heel striking that may increase your speed but ultimately affects your posture as it constantly pushes you forward.
  2. Zero drop shoes allow greater foot movement as it engages the foot to absorb the impact of running.
  3. Zero drop shoes are made from less material as they don’t have structure and extra cushioning in them. Due to less material, these shoes are lighter weight which increases your speed and improve your endurance as well.


Zero drop shoes have been created to keep our feet in a natural state while running. Therefore these shoes come with some performance and health benefits.

Zero drop shoes provide comfort, stability, and increase efficiency. Just remember to transition to these shoes slowly and that they aren’t only for running, so they can be used for anything and everyday use.

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