What’s an Offset?

Q: I’ve heard the terms “offset” or “zero drop” in running shoes. What do these terms mean and why should I care?

A: Remember the minimalist movement? When people were running barefoot? While that has kind of petered out over the last few years, there was a huge positive takeaway in running shoe technology – the lowering of offsets.

Key Terms

STACK HEIGHT

The amount of material that sits between your foot and the ground when wearing a particular pair of shoes (measured in millimeters)

OFFSET

The difference (in millimeters) between your heel and the ground and your forefoot and the ground. Take forefoot stack height and subtract it from heel stack height to find the offset. This can also be known as heel-toe drop.

A little history. Before the minimalist movement, most running shoes gave you an offset of around 12mm. With the introduction of “barefoot” shoes, you generally had the choice of 12mm or 0mm – a dramatic difference.

But now a lot companies like Topo, Saucony, New Balance, and HOKA decided that they wanted to meet the foot halfway, offering offsets of 3-4mm. Altra bases all their shoe models on having a 0mm offset (formally called ZeroDrop™, now called Balanced Cushioning™) in shoes with plenty of cushioning – taking the barefoot out of barefoot shoes. Saucony has lowered the offset in most of their everyday training shoes to 8mm, and many other brands have offerings with offsets between 4mm and 8mm.

Okay – thanks for the history lesson. But how does this affect me as a runner?

Glad you asked! By lowering the offset in your shoes, you’re training your lower body differently. Colby Gould from Altra explains: “By evenly balancing the weight of the shoes between the heel and forefoot, the shoes have less influence over your natural pattern of movement, allowing your body to settle into its own unique gait.”

Think about it – if you have a thicker heel in your shoe, you’re more likely to land on your heel. A balanced midsole allows you to land closer to the midfoot or forefoot, which can be more bio-mechanically efficient. You’re lighter on your feet and distributing impact forces more efficiently. All good things!

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a pair of Topos or Altras today. It’s just food for thought. Mixing a zero-drop or low-offset shoe into your weekly running routine can have benefits. You’re working your Achilles and calf muscles differently, and teaching your body to run more efficiently. We’ve also found lower offset or zero drop shoes to be great options for gym workouts or classes like Orangetheory or Barry’s Bootcamp.

Run Naturally in Altra

Shop Altra
Altra Women's Paradigm 7 - Black
Altra Women's Paradigm 7 - Black
Altra Women's Paradigm 7 Navy/Coral lateral side
Altra Women's Paradigm 7 Blue lateral side

Altra Paradigm 7

Women's Shoes
price:$169.95
Altra Men's Paradigim 7 Black lateral side
Altra Men's Paradigim 7 Black lateral side
Altra Men's Paradigm 7 Blue lateral side

Altra Paradigm 7

Men's Shoes
price:$169.95
Altra Men's Paradigm 6 - Navy/Light Blue
Altra Men's Paradigm 6 - Navy/Light Blue
Altra Men's Paradigm 6 - Estate Blue
Altra Men's Paradigm 6 - Gray/Lime (AL0A5471-232) Lateral Side
Altra Men's Paradigm 6 - Black
Sale

Altra Paradigm 6

Men's Shoes
original price:$169.95 price:$0.00

Check Out Topo

Shop Topo
Topo Women's Ultraventure 3 - Navy/Blue
Topo Women's Ultraventure 3 - Navy/Blue

Topo Ultraventure 3

Women's Shoes
price:$149.95
Topo Women's Magnifly 4 - Admiral Blue/Teal
Topo Women's Magnifly 4 - Admiral Blue/Teal
Topo Women's Magnifly 4 - Emerald/Coral
Sale

Topo Magnifly 4

Women's Shoes
original price:$129.95 price:$0.00
Topo Men's MTN Racer 3 Black/Lime lateral side
Topo Men's MTN Racer 3 Black/Lime lateral side
Topo Men's MTN Racer 3 Mango/Espresso lateral side

Topo MTN Racer 3

Men's Shoes
price:$149.95

Products You May Like

See More
HOKA Women's Bondi 8 - Black/White
HOKA Women's Bondi 8 - Black/White
HOKA Women's Bondi 8 - Shadow/Dusk
HOKA Women's Bondi 8 - White/White
HOKA Women's Bondi 8 Airy Blue/Sunlit Ocean lateral side
hoka womens bondi 8 purple side view
+11
Sale

HOKA Bondi 8

Women's Shoes
original price:$164.95 price:$164.95
Brooks Women's Glycerin 20 Black Orange
Brooks Women's Glycerin 20 Black Orange
Brooks Women's Glycerin 20 Ebony/Nightlife lateral side
Brooks Women's Glycerin 20 White/Orchid/Lavender lateral side
Brooks Women's Glycerin 20 White/Khaki lateral side
brooks-womens-glycerin-twenty-high-cushioning-running-shoe-white-orange
+7
Sale

Brooks Glycerin 20

Women's Shoes
original price:$159.95 price:$99.95
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - Black/Purple/Coral (1203531B080)
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - Black/Purple/Coral (1203531B080)
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - Alloy/Blue/Green (1203531B045)
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - White/Coral/Purple
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - Kentucky Blue/White/Rose
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 22 - White/Oyster/Brilliant (1203531B160)
Sale

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

Women's Shoes
original price:$139.95 price:$89.95
Altra Women's Olympus 5 - White/Blue
Altra Women's Olympus 5 - White/Blue
Altra Women's Olympus 5 Purple/Orange lateral side
Altra Women's Olympus 5 Orange side view
Altra Women's Olympus 5 brown/red lateral side
Altra Women's Olympus 5 White/Light Blue side view
+4
Sale

Altra Olympus 5

Women's Shoes
original price:$169.95 price:$94.95
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 - Black/Thunder
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 - Black/Thunder
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 side view
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 side view
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 side view
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 1080v12 Black/Neon Dragonfly lateral side
+5
Sale

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

Women's Shoes
original price:$159.95 price:$124.95
HOKA Women's Clifton 9 GTX Dazling Blue/Evening Sky lateral side
HOKA Women's Clifton 9 GTX Dazling Blue/Evening Sky lateral side
HOKA Women's Clifton 9 GTX Black/Black lateral side

HOKA Clifton 9 GTX

Women's Shoes
price:$159.95
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 Wide - French Blue/Barely Rose (1012B199-400)
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 Wide - French Blue/Barely Rose (1012B199-400)
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 - French Blue/Barely Rose (1012B201-400)
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 - Sage/Clear Blue
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 - Piedmont Grey/Lime Green
Asics Women's Gel Nimbus 24 - Black/Barely Rose
Sale

Asics Gel Nimbus 24

Women's Shoes
original price:$159.95 price:$84.95
Puma X Ciele Women's Fast-R Nitro Elite medial side
Puma X Ciele Women's Fast-R Nitro Elite medial side
Puma Women's Fast R-Nitro Elite Elektro Purple/Fizzy Lime medial side
Sale

PUMA Fast-R Nitro Elite

Women's Shoes
original price:$249.95 price:$209.95