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.
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.
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 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!