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How A Great Transition Shoe Prepares You For Zero Drop

If you know Lems, you know we love a good minimalist, zero drop shoe. But since the release of the Mesa, the newest edition to the Mountain-to-Town series, we’ve received a lot of questions about the Mesa and Trailhead’s featured 4mm drop vs our original zero-drop shoes, and the most efficient way to transition between the two.

What’s the deal with drop?

“Drop” refers to the slope of the shoe between your heel and your toes. For reference, a traditional hiking or running shoe features a drop that is generally 10-12mm. Outside of the Mesa and Trailhead, all Lems’ shoes feature a zero-drop, which means the heel and the toe are parallel. Zero-drop is a beloved feature among hikers and runners that prefer a barefoot feel. For those looking to make a move to barefoot but are accustomed to a traditional shoe, a 4mm drop is the perfect transitional height.

"Why is Lems Making a 4mm drop shoe, I thought Lems was only zero drop?”

Great question! There’s a few reasons why we're diversifying and adding 4mm drop to our zero drop line.  For starters, 4mm drop is still low heel drop (or minimal drop). Secondly, when you add cushioning to a shoe (considering that we bear more weight on our heels, particularly when standing), the heel cushioning compresses down, so that 4mm drop immediately becomes 2mm drop. As the shoe wears down, it will eventually become 0mm of drop, which means many cushioned zero drop shoes actually become negative heel drop shoes over time.  

In a perfect world, shoes wouldn’t wear out, and zero drop would stay zero drop. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world and that’s why biomechanically, we feel it’s proper to add 4mm drop to our line.


Why should I transition before moving to zero drop?

If you’ve never actively searched for zero drop shoes, it’s pretty likely you’ve never worn them, and because traditional shoes feature a 10 to 12mm drop (a 12mm drop is roughly a 10% downward ramp slope vs the 3% ramp slope of a 4mm drop) your Achilles and the lower portion of your calves have neutralized.  Giving yourself a transition period between some level of drop and zero drop will help the muscles redevelop.

I’m ready! Let’s go!

Great! Like we mentioned above, the Lems’ Mountain-to -Town series has a 4mm drop which is the perfect level for transitioning (just for reference, a 4mm drop is about the height of two nickels stacked on top of one another). Once you’ve given your workouts a few weeks to adjust, feel free to jump into a pair of Primal 2's, or any of our other zero drop models — just make sure you take it easy for the first few weeks.

4mm drop not your preferred Lems style? Fear not, we’ve got more zero drop in the works.

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