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Zinger Run Better

Improve Your Form

Running 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 or preparing for your next race, we've created the "learn to run initiative" to help runners run better and healthier.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Balanced Forward Posture

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

  • 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
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Proper Foot Strike

  • Land softly underneath a bent knee
  • Avoid overstriding and excessive heel striking
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High Cadence

  • Maintain approximately 170-180 steps per minute
  • Count 30 steps per leg in 20 seconds for a 180 cadence
  • Light, soft & quick foot placement
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PROUD POSTURE

  • Stand tall, gaze forward
  • Keep chest forward and shoulders back and relaxed
  • Don't bend at the waist
  • 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: To reset your posture, quickly pump your arms forward and backward at a 45-degree angle. This brings your hips and chest forward and keeps your back straight.

    COMPACT ARMS

  • 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
  • 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 heavyhands or 1–2 pound hand weights on easy runs to find your most efficient arm movement and angle.

    LOW IMPACT LANDING

  • Land softly underneath a bent knee
  • Avoid overstriding and excessive heel striking
  • 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. Overstriding, 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.

    HIGH CADENCE

  • Maintain approximately 170–180 steps per minute
  • Count 30 steps per leg in 20 seconds for a 180 cadence
  • Light, soft and quick foot placement
  • Spend several weeks gradually increasing 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 170 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 by another 10–15 steps per minute until you settle on a comfortable, efficient cadence between 170–180 steps per minute. Cadence changes very little 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 174–180 steps per minute consists of 29–30 steps in a twenty seconds.

    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. There are many good ways to learn proper technique, here are a few of our favorites:

    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.

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    How To Transition

    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 Drop 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 Drop 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.

    Transition

    Similar to any time you introduce a new shoe into your routine, we recommend rotating your new Zero Drop 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:

    Transition Schedule

    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 www.AltraRunBetter.com 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!

    FootShape™ toe box Transition

    Wearing a shoe with a FootShape™ 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.

    FootShape™ toe box Challenge

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

    The FootShape™ 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 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 fasciosis, 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 fasciosis, and other foot and leg problems. For optimum foot health, Altra recommends wearing only shoes with a FootShape™ toe box at all times possible.

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    FootShape™ toe box

    FootShape™ toe box



    FootShaped™ Design

    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 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.

    Watch the Video

    Benefits:

    • 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 Drop

    ZERO DROP
    ZERO LIMITS

    Every Altra running shoe features a fully cushioned Zero Drop™ platform that places the heel and forefoot 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.

    Benefits:

    • 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
    Average feet transition

    NOT LIKE THE OTHERS–FOR GOOD REASON

    Altra's complete line of Zero Drop 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 overstriding.

    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 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 Drop" 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 Drop running shoes. Our lightweight blend of EVA and A-Bound™ cushioning runs evenly from heel to toe and is weight balanced from front to back to encourage proper low-impact running technique.

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    Gender Specific

    Gender Specific Footwear by Altra

    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 have 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 Drop platform and FootShape™ toe box allows a woman's foot to remain in a natural, relaxed position throughout her run.

    Watch the Video Altra Gender Specific footwear
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    Know Your Shoe

    Know Your Shoe

    A-Bound™

    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-Bound™ compresses 2-3x less so it won't deform over time.

    'A'-Wrap

    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.

    SeeNoSeam™

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

    StoneGuard™

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

    NRS - Natural Ride System™

    This unique combination of outsole and midsole componentry with proper metatarsal parabola, Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ lasts allows people to run as nature intended.

    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.

    HeelClaw™

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

    TrailRudder™

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

    Insoles and Outsoles

    BareSole™

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

    TrailClaw™ 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 TrailClaw™ Outsole a beast in any trail condition.

    FootPod™ 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.

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    Fit & Feel

    The Fit

    Having a proper fitting running shoe goes a long way when you are running long distances. This key reason 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 Drop Footwear should feel as relaxed and natural as possible.
    3. If 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 then 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 INSOLES

    Altra BareSole™

    Build stronger feet and legs by wearing shoes without an insole. Designed to be worn without a footbed, these shoes allow for more room and offer less cushioning so you utilize more muscles.

    Strengthen Footbed

    Allow your feet to build strength and support with 3 mm of flat insole. For those new to Zero Drop™ technology, this footbed should be broken into slowly. Transition to the strengthen footbed by first wearing it on shorter runs and gradually working up to your regular mileage. For those with stronger feet, transitioning to the strengthen footbed should be easier.

    Support Footbed

    Providing some arch support, this 5 mm support footbed gives you the feeling of a more traditional insole. For those new to Zero Drop™ technology, this insole is a good place to start.

    Stability Wedge

    The Altra stability wedge allows for maximum stability without pressing into the arch and weakening the foot. Unlike traditional stability systems that only provide stability underneath the arch, the full-length 4 mm varus, angled from the outside to the inside of the shoe, runs evenly from heel to toe and accounts for both early and late stage foot collapse. The stability wedge sits underneath the insole of the shoe and can be used in both shoes or a single shoe for those who have collapse on just one foot.

    ALTRA OUTSOLES

    BareSole™

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

    TrailClaw™ 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 TrailClaw™ Outsole a beast in any trail condition.

    FootPod™ 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

    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.
    Alternate Lacing
      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 the leg.
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