The question of whether or not zero-drop shoes are good for achilles tendonitis has been debated in the running community for years. Some say that wearing these types of shoes can help clear up your Achilles tendonitis, while others say that they can actually make it worse.
If you’ve ever had Achilles tendonitis, you know that it’s an irritating and painful condition that can make everyday activities like walking, running, or walking upstairs a real struggle. With so many different treatment options out there and no clear consensus on which is best, it’s often difficult to know where to start.
We know that wearing zero-drop shoes is one way to help prevent heel pain from developing in the first place—but does it work for people who already have achilles tendonitis? Let’s take a look at the facts behind this debate and see if we can’t find out!
What is Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is a condition that causes pain, swelling, and inflammation in the Achilles tendon. It can be a result of overuse or injury. The Achilles tendon is the strongest and thickest tendon in the body, connecting your calf muscles to your heel bone. It’s responsible for helping you move forward while walking or running.
According to Mayo Clinic, this condition is most common among athletes who participate in sports that require repetitive jumping or running (like basketball or tennis). However, it’s also possible for non-athletes to develop Achilles tendonitis if they wear shoes with a high heel or lack support for their feet.
What causes Achilles tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is caused by the degeneration of your Achilles tendon, which is the thickest and strongest tendon in your body. It connects your calf muscles to your heel bone, helping you lift your foot off the ground and walk.
The tendon can become inflamed and painful if you have been doing repetitive movements or exercises for a long time, such as running or jumping. This can also happen if you’re wearing shoes that don’t fit well or are too old.
Achilles tendonitis can be treated with rest and medication; however, if it becomes chronic (meaning it doesn’t go away), surgery may be necessary to repair the damage or treat arthritis in the area.
Can zero-drop shoes cause Achilles tendonitis?
While studies have shown that zero-drop shoes improve performance among runners who took part in them, some experts believe that these shoes may also increase your risk of developing inflammation in your Achilles tendon when worn over long periods of time without proper care and maintenance.
Here are a few reasons why zero-drop shoes may cause Achilles tendonitis.
Transitioning from traditional to zero-drop shoes
For those who have been wearing traditional shoes, changing to zero-drop shoes might cause Achilles tendonitis. If you are not used to wearing flat shoes or the zero-drop variety and recently made a transition, it’s possible that you could experience this condition.
Zero drop shoes are intended to be more natural and comfortable than traditional running shoes, which have a heel-to-toe drop. They have no heel or arch support, so they put your feet directly on the ground while you run.
The problem is that most people aren’t used to running in this position. Our bodies are designed to function with some heel elevation—it’s part of our natural posture and helps us balance ourselves while walking or running. So when we transition from traditional shoes to zero-drop ones, our achilles tendons—which attach our calves to our heels—are working harder than they’re used to. This can cause them to become inflamed or injured over time.
Tip: If you’ve been wearing traditional shoes for a long time but are thinking about upgrading to zero-drop ones, give yourself some time to adjust before taking on new challenges like longer runs or more intense workouts.
Sudden increase in activity levels
If you’ve been running in zero drop shoes for years and never got an issue with it, and suddenly you got a painful Achilles, the problem isn’t on the shoes—but most probably you had high-intensity sessions or ramped up your milestone quickly.
The reason for this is that the Achilles tendon isn’t built for sudden increases in speed or intensity–it’s made to handle consistent stress over long periods of time. When you try to increase the intensity or speed of your training too quickly, there’s not enough time to recover from one workout before another begins. When this happens repeatedly, eventually, the tissue will break down and become inflamed.
Tip: If you’re a serious runner (running more than 20 miles per week) or ramping up your mileage rapidly, consider getting custom insoles or over-the-counter inserts to provide extra cushioning in the heel of your foot.
Inconsistency with the footwear
If you have a stint for a month or longer, you’re not wearing your zero-drop shoes and wear shoes with heels, then suddenly go back to zero-drop shoes again; there is a chance that the muscles in your legs are not used to the change in footwear.
When this happens, the muscles will have trouble adjusting to their new environment. This is because your body has to adjust to the change in your gait when you wear a pair of zero-drop shoes. If you have been wearing shoes with heels for a while and then suddenly switch to zero-drop shoes, you may experience some discomfort in your Achilles tendon as it adjusts to the new gait. This is because your body has been conditioned to walk differently for a long period of time, and this may lead to injuries such as Achilles tendonitis.
Are zero drop shoes good for achilles tendonitis?
It depends. If you prepare your achilles for the change in footwear, you can actually improve the condition of your achilles tendon.
When you begin wearing zero-drop shoes, it’s important to ease into them slowly and pay special attention to the way your body responds. If you notice any pain or discomfort as you start wearing these shoes, stop immediately!
Your body needs time to get used to the change in terrain and weight distribution. If your heel feels particularly sensitive when walking around in these shoes, try using heel inserts made specifically for this purpose (they can be found online or at most pharmacies).
If you’ve been wearing high-heeled shoes that have been causing your Achilles tendonitis symptoms, switching to zero-drop shoes will feel like a relief. But remember: be patient! You’ll need time for your body to adjust and heal before going full-force into zero-drop shoes every day of the week.
How To Strengthen Your Achilles Tendon for Zero-drop Shoes
If you’re transitioning to zero-drop shoes, there’s one thing you need to know: it takes time. It takes about three months to make the full transition from regular running shoes to zero-drop shoes. You need to build up your mileage gradually and make sure your form stays solid throughout.
One of the best ways to strengthen your Achilles tendon is to do heel raises with extra weight. your own body weight just isn’t enough to really get the job done, so you’re going to want to add some extra bulk.
The way that this works is pretty simple: hold dumbbells in each hand, and raise yourself up on the balls of your feet without bending your knees. Hold for a few seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down to the ground. Repeat 15 times three times per week.
Running On Slower Pace
If you’re trying to get stronger Achilles tendons for zero-drop shoes, the best way to do that is by running. However, you have to do it in a specific way.
You shouldn’t run continuously. Instead, you should run for short periods at a time—you can even do this on an elliptical machine or treadmill if you prefer. The key is to alternate between high and low-intensity workouts with short rest breaks in between. You should also avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt because these surfaces put a lot of stress on your ankles and knees.
Transition each day from strength training to running while wearing zero-drop shoes. This will help your body get used to being in that position without any weight on it. It might feel weird at first, but this will also help you build up your ankle muscles and make them stronger so that they can support your foot throughout the entire run.
Zero drop shoes are designed to give you a feeling of being barefoot when you walk, but they actually put more pressure on the front of your foot than a traditional shoe would. This can exacerbate conditions like Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis because it puts pressure on the front of your foot instead of distributing it evenly between the heel and the ball of your foot.
Final Verdict: Should you wear zero-drop shoes if you have Achilles tendonitis?
If you have Achilles tendonitis, wearing zero-drop shoes may not be a good idea. While they may be super comfortable, they will make your tendonitis worse by stretching out the inflamed tissue. Instead, it’s best to wear shoes that are flat or have a small heel, as this will help keep the tendon in its natural position and reduce inflammation.
When you have Achilles tendonitis, your body is going to resist anything that adds extra stress to the tendon. This means that you need to take it slow and steady when starting to add weight back into your exercises. But once your achilles has healed up and you’re ready to start incorporating exercises with extra weight, you can actually go for a flatter shoe like zero drop shoes.
It’s just a matter of timing—you want to make sure that your tendon has had time to fully recover before putting too much stress on it again!