Altra Running Blog

4th October 2018

Altra Running Shoes

Bringing new brands into the store is always big deal, generally our shoe selection might be considered to be quite ‘classic’ however over the last year or so we’ve brought in some less well known brands such as Icebug, VJ Sport & Topo Athletic to name a few. Some of these brands have done very well and others not.

We’re welcoming 1 maybe 2 new brands into store over the next few months. One of which is Altra Running.

I’m not 100% sure on how long Altra have been on the scene for but I remember hearing about them in 2013/14. There are 2 American doctors who call themselves the Gait Guys, for anyone out there with an interest in human movement, mechanics and a bit of the science, their blogs and podcasts are fantastic. Altra shoes would frequently crop up in the podcasts. The doctors were bestowing the benefits of the open toe box and zero drop.

altra-zero-drop

Zero drop explained. Image from altrarunning.com

In essence it is the open toe box, more narrow heel and zero drop that make Altra Running different from other brands. Yes, they use some fancy materials in the uppers and foams but so do other brands. Instead of listing the things you can find on Altras website about why they’re so great I thought I’ve let you know how I’ve gotten on with a pair over the last 9 months – It’s not all positive.

The most important thing to take on before reading my experiences are that we are all very different. Our feet are different shapes; widths, volumes, toe lengths, mobility and the list goes on. We move in different ways; long and shorts strides, midfoot and heel striking and the list goes on. If you don’t want to read the blurb below here’s my conclusion on the Altra shoes… They are fantastic for certain people and in certain situations but equally could cause some turmoil for others.  

As I predominantly run off road and it was winter when I had the shoes sent to me I opted for the King MT 1.5, this is Altras’ most aggressively soled shoe with a good tread but it is pretty low to the ground making it fairly flexible.

I’ve used 2mm drop shoes in the past and regurlaly run in 4mm – 8mm. Very rarely do I wear anything above 8mm as I find it causes my Glute Medius and TFL to go a bit wonky. I do suffer with sore calves in the lower drops but consider this to be the lesser of 2 evils and do my best to manage it.

The Altras felt different to the other low drop shoes I’d worn in that I felt more grounded, the contact felt light and I was conscious of using my big toe. Using your big toe is a great thing! I used the shoes twice a week for my easy 5km run with the dog, trying to practice what we preach and transition gradually with this being 10% of my weekly running and as a gentle intensity.

I became aware of 2 things, 1 of which was certainly good the other not so, at least in the short term. The really good thing was how I felt running in my go-to shoes the day after using the Altras. My light contact and springy feeling had transferred across to my 8mm drop shoes. If you’ve ever done barefoot strides in the grass or plyometric drills that encourage good form and a quick contact the Altras gave me something similar. I basically felt like I was running with great posture & poise (Although I’m sure I still looked like I was wrestling with the ground).

foot-space

Open toe box. Image from Altrarunning.com

The not so good thing was my tibialis posterior was certainly feeling a bit sore The tibialis posterior plays a pretty big role in supporting the arch of the foot. It inverts the foot meaning when it contracts it lifts the inside of the foot. So when you land on the outside of the foot, it pronates (to absord shock), the tibialis posterior eccentrically contracts to control this motion (there’s more to it than this – Google has a plethora of info). I’d had a bit of tib post. discomfort in the past but I could never directly attribute it to a shoe. However this time I definitely could.

Over the last 6 months I’ve continued to use the Altras and have thoroughly enjoyed running in them, my tib post discomfort happens every now and then but has subsided considerably. I haven’t run over 90 minutes in them yet but feel like I could. I still feel light an bouncy when running in them and this translates to the next day still too.

I don’t think I could solely run in Altra Running shoes as my mechanics aren’t the best but will continue to use them alongside my other running shoes. For me, variety of footwear is key.

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