What Does 12MM Drop Look Like

Are you as confused as I am about all this talk about stack heights, drop, zero drop, traditional, 4MM vs. 6MM vs. 12MM drop and millimeters? Yes I admit it – I do not think in millimeters, I think in inches and have a difficult time wrapping my head what all the hype is about.

From the conversations I have seen on Twitter and elsewhere, I am not the only one that is confused, bewildered and wondering if all the hype really makes a difference.

This post is not to take the side that one side is better than the other it is to simply give a picture of what the others are talking about when they are discussing zero drop, 4MM, 6MM, 12MM and different stack heights look like with images.

12MM Equals How Many Inches

For those of you more like me, who need more of a visual to figure things out, not just the numbers – this is what 12MM looks like compared to 6MM and 4MM.

12MM Drop 6MM Drop 4MM Drop

You get the idea, I can’t tell if there is that much of a difference between the 3. Going from zero drop to 12MM is just under 1/2 inch. I will let you answer that for yourself whether this is meaningful or not, probably your answer will depend upon your perspective in the MM drop and stack height debate.

Below is a chart with three popular shoes on today’s market, to visually compare the differences between their heel and forefoot stack heights. The Elixir 7;s are more traditional running shoe, Kinvara 3 4MM and Instinct 1.5- zero drop (I am presently running in the Elixir’s, have run in the Kinvara 2’s and the original Instinct’s).

16 to 27MM Shoe Differences

The heel and forefoot stack heights were taken from the Running Warehouse Website

descpageMRS-ALTI15M
Altra Instinct 1.5
descpageMRS-SKN3M4
Saucony Kinvara 3
descpageMRS-MEL7M2
Mizuno Wave Elixir 7

At least now I can at least wrap my head around and visualize what people are talking about when companies begin spewing those numbers in millimeters, during their marketing campaigns. Or better yet when other runners begin to “discuss”, argue or otherwise try to persuade you to go along with their philosophy of zero drop, lower drop or more traditional drop running shoes.

What does all this mean to the average runner? I really am not sure and it seems a lot of other runners are not either, but as more studies come out, they do seem to be leaning a certain direction.

No I am not qualified to make a scientific analysis or recommendations about the pros and cons of the differences that a few millimeters of drop or stack height makes to YOUR running. What the above chart and looking at the actual differences between the stack heights and drop (instead of just the hype), shows me that there are differences, but how these differences actually affect how you and I run is the billion dollar question.

I think that Pete Larson over at RunBlogger put it best in his book “Tread Lightly” when he said “Use what works best for you.”  That is some of the best advice I have heard in the running shoe wars.

However, I might add that you probably have to experiment and search a LITTLE LOT, to find which running shoe style works best for you. I know that I have experimented a lot with different shoe styles, drop and stack heights and still don’t have the answer about what works best for me.

I will find the running shoes that will work for me, but trial and error can be a real pain in the butt (literally), when you are running in shoes that don’t work for you. Unfortunately, I haven’t learned a better way to find which running shoes work best for me.

What do you think?

  • Did these visuals help clarify some of the hype around what the *MM drop actually looks like?
  • Have you tried lower drop shoes or are you still running in traditional shoes?
  • What are your future plans?
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17 comments on “What Does 12MM Drop Look Like

  1. I’ve tried on a few of the lower and zero drop shoes to help me understand what the difference is. Since I’m largely uninjured, I find that what I use works just fine and don’t have much desire to change things up. I run in: Brooks Ghost (for marathons), Brooks Cascadia (trail running up to 50K), and the lighter Brooks Launch(for all roads under marathon length). I’ve found that I midfoot strike most with the Cascadia, and that seems to be caused by the shape of the sole, not the mm drop.

  2. This does help! Thanks, Harold. I started running in your standard 12mm but in this last year I’ve been in some 4mm and haven’t had problems. Haven’t tried 0 yet. Interested to see what folks say.

    • I have run in 12MM went to 4MM up to 6MM, to 8MM and then down to zero drop. My current shoe is 12MM and 10MM for racing shoe. So I really am still searching and I am finding that it is less about the MM drop than how the shoe feels when I run it and how my body feels after a double-digit run. 🙂

  3. For a healthy foot, physics and physiology say lower should be better. Personally, I recommend the most minimalist YOU can handle safely.

    The missing piece here is how different 12mm is for a size 6 and a size 14. The length difference greatly exacerbates the effect of offset on a smaller sized foot.

  4. Thanks for the info. I am still a little confused, but like you, I am going to experiment to figure it all out. I just bought a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence, which have a 4mm drop. I am looking forward to seeing the difference.

  5. Thanks for explaining all this and for pointing people to Pete’s blog. This is a subject area I do not like to get involved with — I’ve moved away from favoring a brand to doing what works for me right now, all while staying open minded to try something new when my current favorites redesign the shoe, but put a different number on them.

    • David – I like most runners I just want running shoes that work for me, what drop it is, what kind of foam or springs it has in it, the brand it is or even what color doesn’t matter to me as much as if it works and keeps me running mostly injury free or until I do something dumb with my training or racing.

  6. Pingback: AVR Week In Review 10/14/12 | A Veteran Runnah

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