The Altra Story


Altra wasn't started in some corporate office, but in the back room of a Wasatch Mountain running store. Our founders, —elite athletes and running store managers, —wanted a shoe that let you run the way you were born to. They noticed that the design of most running shoes was hurting runners more than helping them. Elevated heels promote high-impact landing and narrow toe boxes squeeze the toes out of their natural position. Read Our Story

What began as experimental shoe alterations has transformed into the only shoe company to provide a cushioned Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box. This innovative combo promotes low-impact technique and allows your feet to remain in a natural, relaxed position across every terrain.

Years ago, while filming customers at our running store in the Rocky Mountains, we noticed a disturbing trend—traditional shoes were encouraging high-impact landing and poor posture. Impact force was less and posture was better when running barefoot. Realizing the only difference was the excess heel thickness of their shoes, we began modifying their shoes to make them balanced from heel to toe—which we coined as “Zero Drop”. A toaster oven was used to heat and loosen the midsole, peel back the heel and cut out the excessive cushioning to make it even with the forefoot. This gave our customers the benefits of good form and low impact, without sacrificing the cushioning many runners felt they needed to do long mileage. .

While testing our Zero Drop theory, we immediately saw incredible results with our staff and customers. It helped them return to running with a relaxed, comfortable and natural running experience. Zero Drop was just one of many steps we took to return the runner’s foot to its natural position. Additional research made it clear that we needed to develop a shoe that let the toes relax and spread out naturally, instead of squeezing them inside the narrow toe box of virtually every running shoe. We paired our Zero Drop platform with a wider, FootShape™ toe box, allowing the toes to relax and spread out naturally for more stability and comfort..

With the help of some of the best minds in the running industry, Altra was started to bring a better running experience to the masses. Our award-winning technology and rapidly growing customer base have vaulted Altra into a Top 10 running shoe brand in only a few years. To our team of Ultra Marathoners and Triathletes, running is our lives and each day is a ceaseless pursuit to make running fun and healthy for everyone. We’ve seen our shoes return people to running and help them accomplish things they never thought were possible..



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

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 over striding.

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 that 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.

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.



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.

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.