Introducing Altra Footwear: The Wriggle Room Your Toes Have Been Longing For

Introducing Altra Footwear: The Wriggle Room Your Toes Have Been Longing For

Do your toes bear the brunt of wearing shoes that don’t fit right? Are you tired of buying shoes that bear no resemblance to the shape of your feet? Have you had it up to here with toe blisters every time you hit the road or trails? If your toes crave more wriggle room, or your bunions are pleading for space, a pair of Altra footwear could be just what the doctor ordered.

In this article, you’ll learn about the features that make Altra footwear unique. In particular, you’ll learn:

  • Which feet are most suited to Altra footwear
  • Which activities and medical conditions can benefit from wearing Altras
  • Which blisters you may be able to take out of the equation simply by changing to Altras

We also have a special announcement to make. But first…

Why Altra?

In a word… Footshape™ Fit.

Altra Footwear footshape fit

Ok, that’s two words. However, unlike traditional shoes that can feel cramped and constricting, Altra is renowned for its wide toe box which provides ample room for your toes to splay naturally. Footshape™ Fit refers to Altra’s proprietary last shapes that are designed to create shoes that fit and feel feet better around the toes and forefoot for more people. This means no more squished toes, and definitely no more blisters caused by tight-fitting footwear.

Take a look at the Footshape™ Fit insoles below and compare them to the typical shoe insole! You’ll notice the extra room around the little toe especially, but also the big toe, and the forefoot.

3 Footshape™ Fit Options

Let’s face it, not everybody has dainty Cinderella feet. Feet come in all shapes and sizes! And it is not a small minority of people who have wide feet or bent toes or bulky joints.The reality is, most shoes are not shaped like many peoples feet.
Got wide feet? A bunion? Is your big toe longer than the rest? Just need a bit of extra space for a wonky pinky toe? Or is swelling the issue? Take a look at the 3 Footshape™ Fit options available to you.

Original Footshape™ Fit

Altra started out with their Original Footshape™ Fit last. The range of shoes made on these lasts are Altra’s widest, in the current season include:

  • Lone Peak 8
  • Lone Peak Hiker 2
  • Lone Peak All-Weather Low 2
  • Lone Peak All-Weather Mid 2
  • Via Olympus 2
  • Olympus 5
  • Olympus 5 Hike Low GTX
  • Olympus 5 Hike Mid GTX
  • Escalante Racer

The Lone Peak 8 (Wide) is wider again, throughout the whole shoe.

Standard Footshape™ Fit

Too much of a good thing is not always better, if your feet don’t need it. Not everyone needs the expanse of room offered by the Original lasts. So Altra have a Standard Footshape™ Fit, which actually makes up the majority of their range and is the most popular for Altra wearers, offering the width and volume required by the majority of feet without feeling like your foot is floating around, without support. The shoes made on Altra’s Standard Footshape™ Fit include:

  • Torin 7
  • Paradigm 7
  • Escalante 3
  • FWD Experience
  • Mont Blanc Carbon
  • Mont Blanc Boa
  • Timp 5
  • Timp Hiker GTX
  • Superior 6
  • Solstice XT 2

The Torin 7 (Wide) and Paradigm 7 (Wide) are wider again, throughout the whole shoe.

    Slim Footshape™ Fit

    And there is a Slim Footshape™ Fit range. Even the Slim Footshape Fit has extra toe room compared to a typical shoe, but for a slimmer foot. Remember, the unique feature to Altra is its toe box shape - it’s shaped more like a foot in the toe area. You don’t missout on that just because you have a slimmer foot and you'll get it in:

    • Vanish Carbon 2
    • Vanish Tempo

    Altra Footwear: Great For Comfort

    Intuitively, Altra Footwear are perfect in the following situations:

    Wide feet - You don't have to be a podiatrist to realise feet come in all shapes and sizes. Indeed, research shows there are regional differences across the globe. In years go by, there was very little available off-the-shelf for people with extra width needs. Nowdays, we're lucky to have brands like Altra footwear. Just look at the typical shoe insole to the Footshape™ Fit insoles.

    Standing all day - When you’re on your feet all day, especially if you’re standing still, your feet and toes can swell. Altras will give you the room you need for general comfort, to relieve compressive pathologies like Morton's neuroma, and prevent skin damage in the form of corns, callouses, blisters and possibly even ulcers.

    Endurance sport - Swelling can be a big issue in endurance activities. I see it a lot at 6-day continuous ultramarathons. A lot of athletes wear shoes that are bigger to give them the toe and forefoot width they need. This is less than ideal. A shoe that is shaped like your feet are the answer, ensuring that your feet remain happy and blister-free even as the miles add up.

    Edema (swelling) - If you have edematous conditions such lymphedema or venous insufficiency, or perhaps you have post-surgical edema or edema due to injury, on top of being just plain uncomfortable, wearing your normal shoes can be difficult or even impossible, and may even put your feet at risk of skin breakdown. Altra's spacious toe box accommodate swelling more comfortably than shoes made from typical lasts.

    Now For Our Big Announcement

    We have exciting news: Blister Prevention is now offering Altra footwear!

    We’re an official Altra Footwear retail partner, and we plan to help you choose the right pair of Altras in your blister prevention endeavours. Our aim is to help you prevent and treat your toe blisters with more success by choosing a shoe that suits your foot.

    So, if you think your current shoes are contributing to your blister woes, or if you find yourself limited for options when blisters do occur, or you’re simply looking for a pair of shoes that give your toes the wriggle room they’ve been crying out for, consider a pair of Altra footwear.

    Toe Space = Blister Relief!

    It’s no secret that, of all areas of your foot, your toes are the most likely area to blister. Yet the toe of a shoe is the least accessible, most constrictive, and least modifiable part of your shoe.

    For these reasons, as well as the anatomy of toes, toe blisters are the most difficult to prevent and treat. Here are a couple of examples of how this difficulty plays out.

    1. One of the most effective prevention strategies for toe blisters is gel toe protectors. The gel they contain cushions and absorbs blister-causing shear brilliantly. However, because of the confined volume of the toe box, it’s almost impossible to fit more than one in each shoe even at the best of times. Indeed, there have been many occasions where, in the middle of an endurance event, we can’t even fit one in the toe box. There is literally no room to spare. So we are relegated to lesser preventions that may not work.
    2. When it comes to blisters, people tend to rely on hope rather than use the available intel (blister history, areas of callous…) to predict the likelihood of specific blisters. So they implement no prevention, and end up with several toe blisters. When it gets to the point of being impossible to ignore, a lot of dressings, tape and padding is needed to treat these blisters. But there isn’t always room for all of this. Especially when there is a bit of swelling, or if the person is wearing shoes that barely contain their toes to start with, all of those components of treatment end up making things more uncomfortable rather than less uncomfortable. And can even lead to more blisters.

    This brings us nicely to, exactly which blisters could benefit from a toe box that is anatomically shaped and with ample room? Because not every toe blister is caused by a frank lack of room.

    Altra Footwear Great For These Blisters

    Outer pinky toe blisters

    A lot of people have bent and rotated little toes; we call this twisted toe posture adductovarus. It makes the joints of the little toe to stick out and press against the side of the shoe upper. If your shoe is narrow in this area, corns, callouses, blisters and general discomfort are common. It’s plain to see from the Footshape™ Fit insoles that the little toe will suffer far less compression in Altras compared to a more typical shoe. If you are troubled by a blister on the outside of your little toe in a particular shoe, take the insole out and stand on it (follow these instructions). Look down and see if your little toe is hanging over the edge of the insole. Now, imagine if the insole didn’t narrow so significantly in this area - if it was shaped more like your foot. In other words, imagine an Altra insole. And imagine how your little toe would feel with that extra room.

    It’s important to mention here that some little toes, depending on how bent and rigid they are, will require a bit of added protection, in the form of a gel toe protector or toeprop or similar. In an Altra shoe with more room to spare, you can wear that protection without fear of making things too tight and uncomfortable for your other toes.

    Read more about outer pinky toe blisters here.

    Pinch blisters

    Those adductovarus toes we just talked about can actually happen to any toe. The problem with curly toes is they often tuck under the next toe, resulting in the soft tissue pulp under the toe getting trodden on and pinched. The more the toes are squished together in a shoe that’s too narrow in the toe box, the worse this pinching will be, and the more likely you are to get a pinch blister. That’s why the roomy toe box of Altras can help.

    A wide toe box might not stop this problem altogether - it depends on how bent and stiff the toe is, but they will definitely take unnecessary toe squish out of the equation, letting your toes splay to the extent they are able. And if you do need the best kind of toe protection, you know it’s going to fit.

    Read more about pinch blisters and learn how to tell if you’re at risk of these blisters.

    Interdigital blisters

    This one is pretty self-explanatory. Blisters between the toes will be more likely if they are compressed together in a tight toe box that simply doen’t have enough space for the toes. Altras are a brilliant choice in this case because your toes will have the room to splay naturally, to the extent they are able.

    If you feel you need a little additional protection between the toes, Injinji toesocks with your Altras would make the perfect combination. Make no mistrake, toesocks take up a significant amount of room - there is literally 8 additional layers of sock in the toe box when you wear toesocks. That’s great protection throughout the interdigital spaces, and your Altras will handle that with ease, without inadvertently increasing toe pressure. And if your toes are really tricky and need even more cushioning, you’ll almost certainly fit a gel toe protector or two in there without adverse effect.

    Learn more about interdigital blisters here.

    Blisters under your big toenail

    You may have noticed the typical shape of shoes suits a foot where the 2nd toe is your longest toe. While this is often the case, It’s extremely common for the big toe to be the longest, or for them to be roughly the same length. The shape of the Altra toe box is shaped to suit more of these natural variations in toe length. While there are other reasons for blisters under the big toenail that you should learn about, if your big toe is as long as your second toe, or longer, you owe it to your toes to at least wear a shoe that is vaguely a similar shape.

    what shape are your toes collectively?

    To find out if the shape of your toe box is contributing to these blisters, take the insole out of the shoes in question and stand on it (follow these instructions). Look down and see if your big toe is bulging significantly over the insole, or if it is less than a thumb’s-width from the end of the insole. If so, chances are the shoe is contributing to the pressure on the nail during your walking or running that causes these blisters. Now, imagine if the insole didn’t cut in so significantly in this area - if it was shaped more like your foot and gave your big toe the room it needs. In other words, imagine standing on an Altra insole and wearing the Altra shoe that insole belongs to. Imagine how your big toe would feel with that extra room and less pressure.

    Learn more about blisters under and around the toenail here.

    Forefoot edge blisters

    If you have a bunion, tailors bunion or bulky hallux limitus/rigidus deformity, normal shoes can quickly run out of room for your forefoot. When your joints bulge or overhang the sole of your shoe such that the weightbearing part of your foot isn’t 100% on the sole of the shoe. This creates a concentration of pressure, with callouses and edge blisters a common consequence.

    If you’re suffering with medial or lateral forefoot edge blisters, you must leave no stone unturned in finding a shoe that is wide enough for your foot. This is the vital first step you need to take. Without it, you are making things unnecessarily difficult for yourself. While Engo Blister Patches, using the two-patch technique, can go a long way to preventing forefoot edge blisters, you’re feet will generally feel more comfortable is they were wearing a shoe that accommodated them. This is where Altras come into their own. Try on a pair of Altras, with the different Footshape Fits in mind, and get a feel for them. At a bare minimum, take the insole out and stand on it and look for that overhang. You want either no overhang, or a minimum of overhang, in preventing these blisters. If that’s insufficient, know that you have taken the important first step, and progress to Engo Patches to further reduce the load on the skin under that protruding bone.

    Learn more about forefoot edge blisters and blisters associated with bunions.

    Buying Altras

    Nothing beats going into a shoe store and trying shoes on. It’s the only way you can truly feel how the shoe fits and how it makes the rest of your body feel as you walk around the store, or run on their treadmill. If you’ve never had a pair on your feet, you simply must go to your local store, try on some shoes and get a feel for which Footshape™ Fit plus other aspects of the shoe suit you best.

    But if you’ve worn Altras before and you’re looking for another pair of the same, if you’re after the newest release of the same style, or a different shoe off the same Footshape™ Fit last, we’re here to help. Indeed, if you're unable to get to a store - perhaps you live in the country (like me, I'm 700km from my nearest retailer), if you don't have a retailer nearby or if it's not easy to leave the house, we hope to provide a solution soon that will help you choose the right Footshape Fit in the right size for your feet (to be confirmed).

    Of course we offer free shipping on all shoes, plus no-fuss full money-back 14 day returns to take the risk out of trying Altra for yourself.

    The Full Altra Footwear Range

    We stock the full range of Altra shoes. Take a closer look at the whole range here.

    Your adventures await – let's make sure your feet are ready for the journey ahead.

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