Altra Running Shoes
The unique features of Altra Running shoes stem from the experience of runners who questioned the design of traditional running shoes. The two most important features they wanted to address were the narrower and tapered toe-box and the amount of cushioning / midsole material under the heel in traditional shoe designs.
The forefoot and toe-box of Altra running shoes are ‘FOOTSHAPED’, as Altra like to call it. Traditional running shoes feature pointy toe boxes that squeeze the toes out of their natural position—increasing risk of bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis. Altra’s FOOTSHAPE™ TOE BOX allows the toes to relax and spread out naturally and the big toe to remain in a straight position. This enhances stability and creates a powerful toe-off to maximize running performance. We wish we could call it some scientific breakthrough, but we’re simply giving your foot the working space it needs.
Until recent times the midsole and cushioning designs of running shoes were significantly more built up at the heel and then lower at the forefoot. This created a heel height to fore-foot drop of up to 14mm. This heel to toe off-set as it became known, had several effect on us as runners. The raised heel effect can create a postural change whereby you are tilting forward. In this forward tilting position the muscles we use while running are placed under increased load. The anterior muscle groups (front on the leg) become underutilized while the posterior muscle groups (back of the leg) are required to work harder.
The raised heel running shoe also began to influence running techniques and foot strikes while running. More midsole material under the heel made it more difficult to land on the midfoot and forefoot while running, promoting a more pronounced heel strike. The built up heel also gave a sense of shock absorption and runners began heel striking with more force as a result.
In response to this, Altra founder Golden Harper began melting off outsoles and removing the excess heel elevation from their traditional running shoes. It was ugly, but it worked! The term ” ZERO DROP™” was coined to describe the level cushioning and perfect weight balance from heel to forefoot. This natural balance aligns the feet, back, and body posture for less impact. It also strengthens the Achilles and lower calf muscles that have been weakened over a lifetime of running on elevated heels.