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.
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.
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:
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 Learn To Run 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!
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.
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.