Altra Running Shoes

Improve Your Form

Altra is committed to helping runners avoid injury by teaching efficient, low-impact running technique. Just like any other sport, you’d probably take lessons to get the most out of it. Whether you are just beginning to run or preparing for your next race, we’ve created the “learn to run initiative” to help runners run better and healthier.

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Proud Posture

Run tall, run proud! Straighten your back and push your chest and hips forward. This allows gravity to help ease you into your next step. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed and never bend at the waist. Lock your eyes on the horizon and avoid looking down at your feet or up into the sky.
Quick Tip: “Shoot the moon!” To reset your posture, very quickly pulse your arms out a 45-degree angle and retract just as quickly . This snaps your hips and chest forward in to “run proud, run tall” position.

  • Stand tall, gaze forward
  • Keep chest forward and shoulders back and relaxed
  • Don’t bend at the waist

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Compact Arms

Elite runners have very little arm movement when running. They quickly pop their elbows back and let them passively recover while the other elbow is popping back. They also keep their arms moving in a front-to-back motion instead of a side-to-side motion.

To increase efficiency, keep your arms compact and close to your chest at less than a 90-degree angle. Don’t allow your elbows to come forward past your hips or your fists to cross the midline of your chest.

Quick Tip: Use Heavy Hands or 1–2 pound hand weights on easy runs to find your most efficient arm movement and angle.

  • Short, compact, relaxed arm movement
  • Pump back and recover forward, don’t sway side to side
  • Elbows should not extend in front of the waist unless sprinting

Low Impact Landing

A proper, low-impact foot strike is the result of proud posture, compact arms, and quick steps. Thinking about your foot strike can cause lower leg fatigue, cramps, or other problems, and should be avoided. Each runner has their own unique foot strike, molded by genetics, running surface, and speed of running.

Most runners should land close to midfoot with their foot parallel to the ground. A slight heel landing or forefoot strike is acceptable as long as the foot hits the ground underneath your body. Over striding, excessive heel striking and running on your toes should be avoided as they cause excessive stress and impact.

Quick Tip: As you run, consciously remember to slightly bend your knees and run a little bit quieter.

  • Land softly underneath a bent knee
  • Avoid over striding and excessive heel striking

High Cadence

A high cadence, or quick steps, is proven to reduce impact and improve foot strike and running efficiency. Studies have shown that recreational, chronically injured runners run with a slow cadence, whereas elite and efficient runners have a cadence of above 165 steps per minute. Running barefoot can quickly improve cadence and help you master proper running technique. Start by increasing your cadence by 10–15 steps per minute (2–3 steps per leg in a 20 second period.) Once you’ve adapted to that, increase it again until you settle on a comfortable, efficient cadence between 165–180 steps per minute. Cadence changes only slightly with speed, so you can practice cadence on all types of workouts—even while running in place!

Quick Tip: Count the steps one foot takes in a twenty-second time period. An ideal cadence of 165–180 steps per minute consists of 28–30 steps per leg in twenty seconds.

Pace Based Cadence Recommendations:

  • 165+: 10 minutes per mile and slower
  • 170+: 9 minutes per mile
  • 175+: 8 minutes per mile
  • 180+: 7 minutes per mile and faster

Injury Prevention Tip:

Aim to run at least 1/3 of your mileage on natural or uneven surfaces such as grass, cobblestones, or dirt trails-this will balance your muscle structure & strengthen your stabilizing muscles.

Right now, many running stores teach running technique classes. Ask your local store! If they don’t have a class, encourage them to start one.

Altra also encourages all runners to do at least some barefoot running. Running truly barefoot teaches proper technique, strengthens feet, and has a multitude of other benefits.

How To Transition

Why Do I Need to Transition?

A lifetime of wearing shoes with elevated heels has neutralized your Achilles and lower calf muscles. They will need some time to redevelop! Depending on your foot and calf strength, many runners will experience some lower calf tightness for a few days to a few weeks when transitioning to a Zero DropTM platform. This is caused by the lower leg loading farther and lower than it would in a shoe with an elevated heel.

This additional loading allows the leg to push off the ground more powerfully and activate different parts of the lower leg muscles. This can cause tightness, but it’s a good thing! It’s evidence of how much power traditional shoes were robbing from your stride. Once your muscles adjust, your lower legs will be stronger, more powerful, and more dynamic.
How to have a Great Transition

This transition guide is for moderately cushioned Zero DropTM shoes such as the Instinct and Lone Peak. Higher cushioning models will require very little transition time. Light cushioning models provide greater strengthening of the legs and feet, but require a much longer transition time. While the average Altra customer transitions to one of our moderate cushion shoes in about three weeks, transition times will vary by age, tendon elasticity, and other factors.

Similar to any time you introduce a new shoe into your routine, we recommend rotating your new Zero DropTM footwear with your old shoes for the first few weeks. Start using them on short, easy workouts at first, and then work your way up to harder workouts. Try this schedule to allow your muscles and tendons the necessary time to adapt back to their natural state:

Listen to Your Body

If you experience any discomfort or excessive soreness, reduce your mileage or intensity to allow your body the necessary time to adapt.

Working on your form will greatly help your transition. Take a running technique class, video yourself, watch world-class runners, or be actively engaged in fine-tuning your running technique. Check out for more information. We also recommend strengthening your feet. Exercises such as pulling a towel in with your toes, standing on one foot, and running barefoot will help give you strong, dynamic feet. Just make sure to ease into it. After a successful transition, you are on your way to becoming a stronger, healthier and better runner!

FootShapeTM Toe Box Transition

Wearing a shoe with a FootShapeTM toe box is a whole new experience! It should not feel like a traditional shoe and will likely feel too loose in the forefoot at first. We recommend fitting your shoes with a thumbnail’s width (about 2/3″) between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. This may be more room than you are used to, but giving this room will allow your feet to be more relaxed and powerful. If the fit is correct, the shoes will likely feel “too big” around your toes, while being secure from the ball of your foot back through the heel. Most people get used to this feeling in a few hours to a few days. Proper toe box fitting can help eliminate black toenails, blisters, and foot fatigue.

FootShapeTM Toe Box Challenge

Once you’ve completely and safely transitioned to the Zero DropTM platform, you’re ready for the FootShapeTM toe box challenge. For 30 days, wear only your Altras and lifestyle shoes with a FootShapeTM toe box. This will allow your toes to relax, spread out and become stronger in a natural position.

The FootShapeTM toe box challenge allows the feet to regain their natural shape and function. Most people’s feet unfortunately start to look like the shoes they wear, tapering at the toes rather than continuing to splay. This change in foot shape is similar to Chinese foot binding, and it robs the feet of their natural ability to stabilize and push off the ground powerfully. Additionally, feet shaped from tapered shoes are more prone to foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, neuromas, and nerve pain.

After taking the challenge, you will feel just how much tapered toe boxes have restricted your movement, bound your feet, and robbed them of comfort, power, and stability.

To enhance the experience, Correct Toes can be worn inside your Altra shoes and can help your feet regain their natural shape. They are also helpful in reversing the effects of bunions, plantar fasciitis, and other foot and leg problems. For optimum foot health, Altra recommends wearing only shoes with a FootShapeTM toe box at all times possible.

FootShapeTM toe box

Embrace The Space

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 FootShapeTM 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.
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  • Keeps big toe straight for greater stability and a more powerful toe-off
  • Allows toes to relax and spread out naturally
  • Allows foot to naturally stabilize excess pronation

Replicating Perfection

The human foot is an anatomical masterpiece. It’s designed for stability, speed, and to get you from point A to point B. At Altra, we choose not to mess with perfection and simply let your foot do its thing. Every Altra shoe features a last that has been molded around the healthy position of a human foot. A shoe last is a 360-degree model of a foot used to create the shoe’s heel, instep, and toe box dimensions. Unlike other shoe companies that alter the last to make the shoe look more sleek and fast, we’ve chosen to let your foot decide the shape of the shoe.
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Zero DropTM

Every Altra running shoe features a fully cushioned Zero DropTM platform that places the heel and forefoot at the same distance from the ground. 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.

  • Heel and forefoot are the same distance from the ground
  • Promotes proper form to reduce initial impact by 3–5 times
  • Natural Achilles loading for better propulsion
  • 1-to-1 ratio naturally aligns feet, back and body posture
  • Encourages better running technique
  • Weight-balanced from front to back

Not Like the Others–For Good Reason

Altra’s complete line of Zero DropTM footwear separates us from most running shoe companies that feature shoes with elevated heels. Running in elevated heels removes the foot from its natural position and encourages high-impact over striding.

Innovation at 300°

After countless customers entered his family running store complaining of pain and injury, Altra founder Golden Harper felt compelled to develop a solution. His college research on running injuries, combined with video analysis of running technique, made it easy to see that the design of traditional running shoes promoted poor form and excessive impact.

Using a toaster oven, he began to melt the outsoles of customers’ shoes and carve out unnecessary heel cushioning. It was ugly, but it worked! Harper coined the term “Zero DropTM” to describe the level cushioning and perfect weight balance from heel to forefoot.

Runners immediately felt the difference. It was their results and running success that fueled the creation of Altra Running.

Fully Cushioned

Altra Running is the only running shoe company to provide a complete line of fully cushioned Zero DropTM running shoes. Our lightweight blend of EVA and A-BoundTM cushioning runs evenly from heel to toe and is weight balanced from front to back to encourage proper low-impact running technique.

Gender Specific

Women’s feet are anatomically different than men’s feet. Women have a narrower heel and midfoot, higher instep, longer arch and unique metatarsal spacing. While this has always been a fact of life, traditional running shoe companies have opted to make male and female shoe models virtually identical for years.

Altra is the first shoe company to introduce an entire line of truly female specific shoes. Every last of Altra women’s running shoes has been molded around the unique shape of the female foot. A shoe last is a 360-degree model of a foot used to create the shoe’s heel, instep, arch and toe box dimensions.

Female specific design combined with a cushioned Zero DropTM platform and FootShapeTM toe box allows a woman’s foot to remain in a natural, relaxed position throughout her run.

Know Your Shoe


Environmentally friendly, this energy-return compound is made of recycled materials. Offering extra protection, this unique layer sits directly under the foot to return energy back into each stride. It reduces the impact of hard surfaces while still maintaining ground feedback. Traditional running shoe foam compresses 70-90% while A-BoundTM compresses 2-3x less so it won’t deform over time.


Wrapping the midfoot, this innovative design offers a snug fit for necessary control. Customers will experience a natural, roomy toe environment and a better, more comfortable run.


Found in select Altra shoes, this comfortable, advanced stitching allows the foot to rest against a smooth surface with no seams.


Sandwiched near the foot, between the A-BoundTM and the midsole, the StoneGuardTM offers flexible protection. This multi-sectional layer deflects rocks into the midsole for a smoother, more stable ride.

Asymmetric Lacing

Following the volume heights of the foot, this lacing system improves the fit and natural flex zones in the shoe for a better fit and fewer pressure points.


Fitting snuggly around the calcaneus, this unique design offers a more comfortable fit without the traditional, stiff heel counter found in other performance shoes.


Stay in control on any steep descent with this throwback feature. It’s a graceful nod to the very first trail running shoes.

Altra Outsoles


Maximize proprioception with this minimalist sole. Crafted from siped performance rubber, this thin sole layer measures 3.4 mm.

TrailClawTM Outsole

This outsole positions the strongest canted lug traction directly beneath the met heads with follow up ‘claws’ positioned near the front of the shoe. The combination of the unique uphill and downhill traction in combination with sticky rubber makes the TrailClawTM Outsole a beast in any trail condition.

FootPodTM Outsole

For maximum flex and responsiveness, this outsole maps the bones and tendons of the human foot. With canted lugs mapping your foot, this unique outsole provides a natural, all-purpose traction system for a variety of surfaces from road to treadmill to dirt paths.

Fit & Feel

Having a properly fitting running shoe goes a long way when you are running long distances. This is why we engineered our footwear the way that we did. It is imperative to have a proper fit for your feet to run as natural as they are able. When going around barefoot there is no constraint on the foot. The toes splay, the foot relaxes and more power is put into the muscles.

To maximize the benefits of Altra Footwear, we encourage you to follow these fitting suggestions:

  1. Please allow at least ½ inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
  2. Your Zero DropTM Footwear should feel as relaxed and natural as possible.
  3. If the fit is correct, it may feel “too loose” around your toes and may take a day or two for your feet to get used to spreading out.
  4. Fitting this way will allow your feet to become more STABLE, more COMFORTABLE, and more POWERFUL.

By following proper fit and footwear, you let your body do what it is naturally inclined to do. There is no need for additional stability, supports, airs, gels, shocks, or the other. You then have a running experience that will reduce injury while running longer and further.

Altra Outsoles

TrailClawTM Outsole

This outsole positions the strongest canted lug traction directly beneath the met heads with follow up ‘claws’ positioned near the front of the shoe. The combination of the unique uphill and downhill traction in combination with sticky rubber makes the TrailClawTM Outsole a beast in any trail condition.

FootPodTM Outsole

For maximum flex and responsiveness, this outsole maps the bones and tendons of the human foot. With canted lugs mapping your foot, this unique outsole provides a natural, all-purpose traction system for a variety of surfaces from road to treadmill to dirt paths.

Altra Alternate Lacing

For runners with a wider forefoot, or those just looking for more space for their feet to relax, we’re sharing our customer preferred and personal favorite lacing system. This unique system allows the forefoot to expand and breathe while securing the heel and preventing “lace creep.”

  1. Start by running the lace straight across the bottom, over the tongue and downward into the shoe. Make sure both sides of the remaining lace are equal.
  2. Without crossing, skip under to the second set of holes, then over to the third set of holes.
  3. From the third holes to the fourth holes, cross the laces over the top of each other and insert downward into the holes on the opposite side. Continue this crossing technique until you reach the second-to-last set of holes.
  4. String the lace into the last holes upward from underneath. Create a small loop with each end by threading the lace back into the same hole.
  5. Slide the remaining lace from the opposite side into the hole.

    Other Recommendations:

  • We recommend that the laces over the top of the arch/instep are loose enough to comfortably fit your finger after the shoe is tied.
  • The lacing should fit snuggly at the heel, relaxed over the arch and roomy at the forefoot.
  • It may feel “too loose” at first. That’s good! Your foot will learn to spread out and relax.
  • At first, try lacing only one shoe and going for a run. After a few miles, you may notice that the newly laced shoe keeps your leg more relaxed than the other leg sporting the traditional lacing. If the foot muscles can relax, there is a chain reaction that affects the entire leg.

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