New zero-drop shoes from ALTRA
A handful (or should I say, a "foot-full") of new shoes featuring a "zero drop" hit running shoe stores this fall, including the Instinct (men's) and Intuition (women's, both $99) from a new company called ALTRA, and the MV2 from Newton (pronounced, "MV squared," $125).
A major component of minimalist shoes aimed at promoting a natural stride is the off-set between the heel and the forefoot, also referred to as "stack heights." Stack heights of shoes most folks are used to running in — footwear we've had on our feet for decades — have been between 12mm and 14mm difference…Meaning, the height beneath the heel of a traditional running shoe has been roughly 12- to 14mm higher than that of the forefoot.
The purest of minimalist footwear enthusiasts swear by shoes with a "zero drop" with "zero" difference between the height of the shoe's heel and its forefoot. There's even a website dedicated to the zero drop movement.
Similarly to how Saucony launched the zero-drop Hattori, both Newton and ALTRA recommend easing into running in their shoes.
Newton advises: "…runners who are transitioning to a zero-drop shoe like the MV2 may experience tightness in the calves muscles and achilles tendons, as well as the feet. This can occur because the muscles and tendons are further elongated when running in a zero-drop shoe, compared to a conventional shoe with a lifted heel." For that reason, Newton includes a 3mm heel lift with its MV2 shoes for runners to gradually make the shift.
And ALTRA has sections on its website called "Transition" and "Learn to Run" that advise runners with what they consider a safe approach to running in zero-drop shoes. ALTRA warns that, "A lifetime of wearing an elevated heel has neutralized your Achilles and lower calf and THEY NEED TIME TO REDEVELOP!"
Running in zero-drop shoes isn't for everyone, but if you're looking to make the switch, be smart and take it one step at a time.