Height of Heel Matters in Foot Pain Prevention

Chungli Wang

This interesting study published in the November issue of Foot & Ankle International (FAI), the official scientific journal of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), details the biomechanical changes that occur in feet during high heel wear and the correlation between the heel height and amount of pain, pressure and strain it puts on your feet.

The study was conducted on people walking, not running in high heels, but it’s reasonable to assume that the forces involved in running in a 1/2” heel lift are considerably higher than walking.

The study's authors suggest limiting heel height as well as the use of padding at the ball of the foot can significantly reduce discomfort and risk of injury to the metatarsal heads.

Newton Running Performance Racers have a 2 mm drop from heel to toe, the Performance Trainers are 3 mm and Guidance Trainers (Sir and Lady Isaac) are 5 mm. The typical running shoe has a heel lift of a 1/2 inch or more. You do the math.

3 thoughts on “Height of Heel Matters in Foot Pain Prevention”

  • John Passacantando

    Interesting stuff. So why do Newton's bother to have any heel lift at all, instead of just less of a heel lift than other shoes?



  • Allen Reid

    I ask the same question as John.

    Also, why do Newtons have toe spring? The toe spring appears to be exaggerated in the Guidance Trainer.

    I think that the natural elastic recoil of the ankle and forefoot is hampered by heel lift and toe spring. I hope that Dr. Christopher Segler will comment.


  • Tom Frost

    Regarding heel lift: As a recent convert to forefoot/midfoot running, and also a recent purchaser of Newtons, I can suggest that many of us have soft tissues in the back of the lower leg that are so accustomed to wearing a shoe with a heel that is at least 1/2 inch higher than the ball of the foot that those muscles and tendons have shortened accordingly. Hence having less of a heel-to-ball differential aids in the transition to a totally flat shoe. This is also why their three shoes move progressively toward total flatness: 5mm, 3mm, and 2mm for the racers. I bought the racers but may have to go to the Guidance Trainers unless my soft tissues gain more elasticity to handle the 2mm differential, which is yet to be determined. I understand that they are presently working on a shoe that is 0mm.


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