While comparable to my previous shoe, weight-wise, there were three things about the Altra’s that I was fascinated with: high cushioning, despite being lightweight, the zero-drop heel, and the wide toe-box. I will note that I was a little turned off by their aesthetics… they have a unique look that I didn’t find very attractive at first. However, I’m no longer concerned about how they look because of how great they feel! (editors note: there are a few different color schemes available, and they all are pretty unique!)
When I put them on for the first time they were reminiscent of moon boots! I immediately noticed how the added cushioning created a little extra spring in my step. Combined with the zero-drop heel, which is designed to help your body naturally align to promote a low-impact landing, I felt more erect in my stance as opposed to the slight forward tilt in my shoulders that I’ve struggled with for years.
I think what I was most excited about was the wider toe box. Thanks to the phenomenon that is having one foot larger than the other, I’ve been plagued with bruised, blistered toes and black toenails. (But only on the larger foot.) I’ve always chalked it up to “runner problems.” Perhaps a wider toe box, not necessarily a bigger shoe size (which causes its own set of problems for the smaller foot) could help prevent the discomfort that I assumed I was destine to live with so long as I’m a runner.
The wider toe box is designed to allow the toes to spread as they are naturally meant to. The toe splay is able to realign to what is anatomically correct. In turn, the foot is more flexible and there is more ease in movement. It doesn’t stop at the feet though. It translates to maintaining better posture and overall better alignment in the body reducing the risk of imbalance and injury.
I’m happy to report that my experience with the Altra’s has been really great. For most of their line, they recommend a transition process of up to 6 weeks when switching to a zero-drop shoe, depending on the model. The switch for me has essentially been seamless and while I’m still rotating my shoes, I’m favoring the Altra’s. I have not had any issues with cramped toes or blisters and have adjusted to the buoyant feeling when I strike the ground.
If you’ve suffered from ailments due to too tight or too narrow shoes, you might consider giving Altra a try. If restoring your feet to a more natural state could increase the odds that you’ll be able to run in comfort longer, it couldn’t hurt!