Altra Running Shoes FAQ
What is Zero Drop™?
Zero Drop™ simply means there is no drop from the heel of the shoe down to the forefoot. Whereas traditional shoes typically feature a 12mm drop from heel to forefoot, our shoes are the exact same distance off the ground at both the heel and the ball of the foot. You were born with your feet Zero Drop™!
What are the extra insoles in some of your shoes?
The Support Footbed, similar to a traditional insole, features some arch support and heel sculpting, similar to traditional shoes. The Strengthen Footbed is completely flat and offers less support so you can strengthen the muscles in your feet. In some of our shoes, the Strengthen configuration can be used by simply removing the footbed that comes with the shoe. Our Stability shoes come with a removable Varus Stability Wedge that offers support for those whose feet or legs collapse inward. Unlike traditional stability devices, the Stability Wedge accomplishes this without pushing up in the arch and making the feet weak over time.
How far can I run in your shoes?
Altra's Zero Drop™ Shoes were built by UltraMarathon runners with all distances in mind. Our core training models are intended to be used for walking and running any distance, from 5k to UltraMarathon distances. They also work great for other athletic activities such as lifting, plyometrics, etc. Because the foot is in its natural position (flat with toes spread), this allows people to go greater distances with added comfort. The cushioned Zero Drop™ platform gives the cushion to go far and the technique and ability to run more efficiently for longer.
How wide are your shoes?
Due to the FootShape™ design, this is a tough question to answer! Around the toes, the shoes are much wider than the average shoe. However, the shoes are pretty standard width at the ball of the foot, meaning they won't feel wide or sloppy to the average individual. There are extra volume allowances in our FootShape™ lasts to accommodate the wider shape of human feet without feeling loose or sloppy. In addition, all of our shoes can be worn without the removable footbeds for extra width to accommodate up to 4E width feet!
Do your shoes work for those that use 4E shoes?
That depends on whether your foot is a 4E at the toes or if it is through the midfoot and/or heel. If you prefer the extra width for the toes, then our shoes may indeed fit you. We have had many people that wear a 4E wear our shoes with success. In addition, all of our shoes can be worn without the included footbeds, which gives them an extra size of width. (This may be helpful as well if you don't mind sacrificing a touch of cushioning.)
Can I wear orthotics with Altra's?
Yes, orthotics and inserts can absolutely be worn with our shoes. Of course, the goal for most people should be to gradually strengthen the feet over a period of a few months to a year. As your feet get stronger, the necessity to wear supportive insoles or orthotics should be reduced, as your feet will become the support!
My lower leg muscles get sore after wearing your shoes. What can I do?
Having sore lower leg muscles is a sign of proper running technique. For the average individual, some lower leg tightness will exist for about 2 ½ weeks when switching to a cushioned Zero Drop™ shoe. However, if the soreness is excessive or lasts longer than this, you may want to try a simple heel cushion or heel lift during your harder workouts for a few weeks. These cost less than $10 and are available at your local running specialty store.
I just got my new shoes. How should they fit?
Your shoes should fit securely in the heel and midfoot, and be very loose around the toes. If the fit is right, you should have over ½" between your toes and the end of the shoe, and your toes should feel completely unrestricted. Most people get used to the feeling of their toes feeling "too loose" after a few days of using the shoes. Once the toes get used to spreading out, they will be more dynamic, powerful, and stable to prevent over pronation and allow for a natural, powerful push off that is impossible in a traditional tapered toe box.
How can I strengthen my feet?
There are many ways. Just remember to start nice and easy! Here are just a few: Use our shoes in their BareSole or Strengthen configurations. Run or walk barefoot. If you've never done this before, start with 30 seconds on a soft or natural surface and work your way up 30 seconds at a time. Listen to your body! Pull a towel in with your toes. Simply place a towel on the ground and slowly pull the towel in with your toes. Stand on one foot. Try this both with shoes on in public and as an exercise at home with your eyes closed on carpet.
Can I wear Zero Drop™ shoes with flat feet?
Yes! Most of the greatest distance runners in the world have flat feet. The notion that flat feet = bad is a myth! Now with that said, weak flat feet, do pose some challenges, but these are easily offset in time by strengthening the feet. The Provision and Provisioness are great to give the support necessary while strengthening the feet. They should be great for wearing around town and running.
What is the typical lifespan of your shoes?
Our customers report that their Altra's tend to last longer than their traditional athletic shoes. This is possible because Altra uses compression-resistant materials and 70% less traditional EVA foam than regular athletic shoes. Durability will vary greatly depending on the particular athlete, his or her running style, and personal preference.
What are some of the performance advantages of Zero Drop™?
There are many! We'll start with a few:
- Because your shoes are Zero Drop™, this means that your entire Achilles-Calf-Foot complex can load an extra 12mm more than a traditional shoe. This is similar to being able to push a spring down more so it can spring higher, and allows your foot to explode off the ground much more powerfully than is possible with traditional raised-heel shoes. Zero Drop™ puts your foot in its natural position. Because your feet are in the position they were built to be in, they can go much farther without fatiguing. Zero Drop™ aligns and locks the bone structure of your feet into its most stable natural positioning. This enhances stability, especially for runners who tend to over pronate.
- Because your shoes are Zero Drop™, this means that your entire Achilles-Calf-Foot complex can load an extra 12mm more than a traditional shoe. This is similar to being able to push a spring down more so it can spring higher, and allows your foot to explode off the ground much more powerfully than is possible with traditional raised-heel shoes. This uses your lower calf and foot muscles differently and more dynamically than they are used to being used, and is the reason for the soreness. This is what we call the awesome natural loading effect of Zero Drop™!
What is the difference between Instinct/Intuition and Provision/Provisioness?
The Provision/Provisioness includes a removable Stability Wedge to help with excessive pronation, flat feet, etc. Without the Stability Wedge, the Provision/Provisioness is simply a firmer, slightly different-fitting version of The Instinct/Intuition.