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Altra Paradigm 6 Multiple Tester Review
By Chief Editor Matt Klein and Senior Contributors David Salas and Nathan Brown


The Altra Paradigm 6 has become a shoe with serious consideration in the maximum cushioning category for a lot of people. The shoe does feature a zero drop and level platform throughout with a relatively high platform and wide toe box. The shoe has a wide platform underneath as well a nearly full contact outsole that also helps with stabilizing the shoe a little bit throughout. The Altra Paradigm 6 continues the Paradigm lineage with an updated upper and midsole named EGO MAX. 




Specifications for the Altra Paradigm 6 (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.3 oz / 292 g (men's size 9) 9.2 oz / 261 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 34 mm / 34 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Classification: Premium Daily Trainer, Maximum Cushion


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Altra Paradigm 6 is a highly cushioned zero drop training shoe that ends up being a stability shoe thanks to some fantastic use of guiderails on both the medial and lateral sides of the foot. An EgoMAX midsole provides a cushioned but slightly firmer ride. The transition is one of the smoothest rides I have experienced in a zero drop shoe, with an extremely well placed heel bevel and a well balance level of toe spring with a high level of forefoot flexibility. A traditional Altra fit sits up top, but this shoe is unique in that the rocker and stability work well to make this an excellent first shoe for those looking to transition to zero drop. For others used to zero drop, this is an awesome long distance training shoe with a very smooth ride and stability.

David: The Altra Paradigm 6 is a maximum cushion trainer that features a zero drop level platform and a wide toe box. The upper is an engineered mesh that locks down pretty well throughout. The midsole provides plenty of protection for longer efforts but does run on the firmer end of foams in the maximum cushion category. The ride is pretty balanced throughout and the shoe has all of the necessary components to be a workhorse trainer for those that like 0mm drop shoes. 

Nathan: The Altra Paradigm 6 is a highly cushioned, zero drop shoe that is built as a stability shoe within the Altra line. The fit touts Altra's wide toe box and overall has a bigger fit throughout. For a zero drop shoe, the higher stack of foam and bit of forefoot rocker does make it a bit more accessible to those not used to the zero drop world. This shoe feels a bit heavier, but is built strong and will be a mileage eater for the right person.



FIT

Matt: The Altra Paradigm 6 fits me true to size in my normal Men's US size 10. The width throughout is on the wider side, particularly in the heel and forefoot. This is very normal for Altra and as usual I had to lace lock the shoe as I was getting some heel slippage. The midfoot can be locked down well by tightening the laces down. The forefoot is wide, but not sloppy. I did not have any slippage inside the shoe and loved being able to spread my toes. The tongue is a little thicker, but is the perfect width and length. It protected my foot well even as I tied down the laces and sat comfortably against my foot. The upper also integrates well with the large guiderails and they seamless transition together. The upper is a little thicker overall, but never felt heavy. Overall it is quite comfortable and disappears as soon as I start running. 

David: The Altra Paradigm 6 fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5. The width throughout is normal width to slightly wide through the heel and midfoot with a wider forefoot. Altra is known for having wide toe boxes and that is consistent with this model. The toe box is done pretty well, for it is certainly wide but not overly so where foot translation begins to occur. The lacing system is pretty good throughout but does seem to need a little work as it gets closer to the collar. The heel itself is done pretty well but I did have some minor issues with heel slippage. If I laced the shoe down tight that helped some but I would still get a small amount. Perhaps moving the eyelets more posterior or reworking the collar would help with this. Overall, the upper was comfortable though. The tongue is padded and provides enough cushion for lacing the shoe down tightly. The upper also integrates pretty well with the sidewalls created by the midsole along the medial and lateral aspect of the shoe. My only real recommendation here is cleaning up the heel security and lockdown perhaps through the collar. 

Nathan: Ultimately I would place the Paradigm 6 in the true to size category for my Men's size 9. That said, it fits wide throughout from the heel up to the toe box. Given Altra's fit design, I did expect the wider toe box and it feels really nice for the forefoot to have that kind of space. However, the midfoot and heel were a bit too wide, which led to some slippage as well as a need to really lace down the shoe to keep it secure (keeping in mind that I have a slightly more narrow foot). The most useful part of the lacing system was the midfoot strap, which they call the INOVARCH (which I'll speak to more later). There is an extra eyelet that I utilized, which allowed a bit better lockdown for me. Additionally, I had to utilize the final eyelet to get an adequate lockdown. My other issue with the upper was that the tongue did not stay put and slid to the outside during any run. 

Besides the fit being a bit wide, I appreciate the quality of materials of the upper. True to the design of this shoe as a workhorse, the upper is a bit thicker yet has slight breathability. As temperatures dip in Wisconsin, this is a kind of upper I like for winters and "deep fall". 


PERFORMANCE

Matt: The Altra Paradigm 6 is one of the smoothest zero or lower drop shoes I have tried recently. The ride is slightly firmer for  shoe with so much cushion and protection, but this only adds to the stability. The transitions are extremely smooth no matter where you land. There is a perfectly positioned posterior lateral heel bevel that compresses very well during heel landings, making for a smooth initial contact if you land there. The forefoot is extremely well designed and takes a great deal of pressure off the calves/achilles for being a zero drop shoe. There is a significant toe spring that is well placed but doesn't feel artificial. On top of that, there are deep flex grooves that actually provide a high level of stability for a shoe with 34mm of stack height. This makes for a super smooth toe off that made me less aware of the lower drop. The overall smooth, cushioned and stable ride does make this shoe best for eating up miles. The EgoMAX midsole is slightly firmer for this much shoe and contributes to the smooth transition along with the heel bevel and toe spring. The weight isn't that noticeable, but it is not meant for high speed running. This is a shoe that will keep you going at a comfortable, consistent pace, making it excellent for normal to long distance runs. 

David: The Altra Paradigm 6 ran a little firmer than I thought it would for being a maximum cushion shoe. Don't worry there is still plenty of stack and protection to be in that category, but the durometer seems to lean a little firmer. The ride of the shoe is pretty balanced throughout with no majorly quick or lengthen transitions throughout the shoe. The heel does have a small posterior lateral bevel which provides a nice heel to midfoot transition. There are some pretty large sidewalls on the medial and lateral sides of the rearfoot seem to work pretty well keeping motion linear. The sidewalls are integrated well and provided no excess rubbing or irritation. The shoe itself is pretty rigid throughout, though there are some deep flex grooves sprinkled throughout the midfoot and forefoot that allow for a little added flexibility at toe off. The transition through the forefoot is pretty smooth throughout however does seem to lack some responsiveness. That isn't necessarily a problem for the shoe for this is a model aimed at being a daily trainer. I would describe the ride as being balanced throughout. Nothing about it feels revolutionary but it is consistent and pretty smooth throughout. One thing I did notice however was a some heel translation with some turning. This essentially is a relatively firm maximum cushioning training shoe with a balanced feel through the transitions, though lacking some responsiveness. 

Nathan: The Altra Paradigm 6 utilizes Altra's new EGO MAX midsole. I'm currently also testing the Altra Lone Peak 5, which utilizes the EGO midsole. Comparatively, the EGO feels notably softer. However, this may be due to the amount of EGO MAX that exists in the Paradigm 6, as it runs quite firm. Thanks to the heel bevel, forefoot rocker, and flex grooves, it transitions well and isn't abrasive in transitions despite its firmness. Given the higher stack, it felt plenty protective over longer runs as well. All that said, the foam is not necessarily responsive. In the end, the shoe performs best for medium to long runs where there is no goal for picking up the pace. It can eat away slow miles, but feels a bit bottom heavy and doesn't have a lot of "pop" when trying to go a bit quicker. In testing this shoe, I found it akin to the Endorphin Shift from Saucony in that it remained consistent over longer mileage, but doesn't have "pop" from the foam. Where these two shoes diverge is that the geometry of the Shift as well as the lighter upper allow it to handle a bit more pace than the Paradigm 6. If you are looking for a consistent, firmer, zero drop, high cushioned shoe for tons of miles, this is a really solid option. Although a bit heavier, it does run more like a daily trainer than some other premium stability shoes. 

I finally wanted to speak about the experience of running in this zero drop shoe. The higher amount of firm cushion makes landing in heel strike doable without compressing the foam to make it feel like a negative drop. Therefore this felt like a true zero drop, or even similar to some 4mm drop shoes I've ran in. This made it a great transition shoe to zero drop shoes for me. I also utilized a 4mm drop insole (BLUMAKA KONNECT) during two of my runs in this shoe, which assisted even more in the transition to my hour runs in this shoe with the original insoles.



STABILITY

Matt: The Altra Paradigm 6 has excellent stability throughout the length of the shoe without using traditional methods like posting. There is a very large guiderail on the medial side in the heel to the midfoot as well as a moderate sized one on the lateral side. These integrate into both the upper and midsole well, provided a very natural and smooth transition forward. I did not feel these pushing into my foot, but also did not experience the same fatigue I normally do in neutral shoes after longer miles. The straight last (ie midfoot that is the same width as the heel) and filled in midfoot makes for an even more naturally stable transition at the midfoot. The forefoot is wider with subtle sole flare on both sides. Additionally, the well placed toe spring, great forefoot flexibility and deep longitudinal flex grooves provide further forward facilitation particularly at the forefoot. Finally, the EgoMAX midsole is slightly firmer for a max cushion shoe, which creates an even more stable ride. Overall this is an excellent stable shoe that fits so many different methods together nicely without being overbearing.

David: The Paradigm has pretty good stability throughout for being a maximum cushioning training shoe. The platform is on the wider end and creates plenty of surface area to land on. The full contact outsole provides good traction and ground feel. The EGO MAX cushioning provides plenty of protection under foot but the relatively firmer ride does help keep the ride a little more consistent. The upper is done pretty well however heel security could improve especially with the collar region. I would notice some slight heel translation with turning or slippage with hills. The shoe does have some pretty high sidewalls on the medial and lateral aspect of the rearfoot and midfoot which is also integrated really well. Overall though the stability is pretty good throughout for a max cushion shoe. 

Nathan: The Paradigm 6 is Altra's take on a high stability shoe, and they go about it without the use of a medial post. There is a wide outsole platform for inherent stability, high GUIDERAILS (sidewalls) on both sides, and the INOVARCH lacing, which snugs the upper to the medial arch. The combination of these components does create a very stable platform with versatility for the user. What I mean by versatility is that the GUIDERAILS are present medially and laterally, and the INOVARCH has variable lacing options that allow the runner to modify to their needs. So for those who like a little support on the inside of the shoe, you'll find that here. For those who like it on the outside, it's also here. Finally, given that the support elements are not positioned under the foot, runners who typically prefer neutral shoes can also use this without possibly noticing that this is a stability shoe (again, similar to the stability elements within the Endorphin Shift). The lines are blurring between "stability" and "neutral" shoes, and this is an example of a very stable shoe that can also work for neutral runners because you don't feel the stability elements unless you get to the point that you need them (i.e if you become quite fatigued). Where this shoe loses its top score for stability is that the upper allows for some slippage in the midfoot and heel.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Here at Doctors of Running we talk about stability a lot. I bring it up again to mainly look at how the Paradigm 6 creates stability for a maximum cushion shoe without utilizing posting. The shoe uses a relatively wide platform underneath coupled with a full contact outsole. The main thing with this shoe though is the large guide rail and sidewall on the shoe. The guide rail is in the rearfoot through the midfoot and much larger in the medial aspect of the shoe. The sidewalls however are integrated very well and do not feel like that they are pushing into the foot at all. The shoe almost runs like a very stable neutral shoe through the midfoot because of this. By creating some sidewalls that are accompanied by a slight posterior lateral heel bevel the transition from the heel into the midfoot is smooth and prevents excessive translation both medially and laterally. The midsole is also consistent durometer with the rest of the shoe so nothing is felt as overly firm. Overall this a great example of sidewall and/or guide rail integration for stability. 

- David Salas PT, DPT, CSCS

We have previously discussed benefits of shoe rotations as a way to introduce mechanical variability to you as a runner. One simple aspect of shoes to vary is the drop of a shoe, as you can typically find shoes anywhere from 0mm drop to 12mm drop. Despite variability being a good thing, you also need to consider how to transition to those changes in the shoe construction. If you're used to using a high drop shoe or a highly rockered shoe, which tend to decrease demand on the calf/achilles, you may want to consider how to integrate a 0mm drop shoe into your running routine, which tend to increase demand on the calf/achilles.

There are many things to consider for transitioning to a zero drop shoe, but here are two. First is the frequency that you use the shoe. There are no hard and fast rules, but I would recommend a strategic introduction of shoes with zero drop. Step one would be to wear the shoe for walking and during the work day (if appropriate) for 1-2 weeks. The next step would be to use the shoe for one short run during your running routine. If both of those go well, then you can increase the use of the shoe by 10-20% per week, with every other run being in a shoe with a drop you are most used to. Placing time between each run in the 0mm drop shoe allows time for physiological adaptation to the Achilles tendon (which takes 36-52 hours to restructure its collagen). 

The second consideration is preparing your body from a strengthening and loading perspective. By directly training the Achilles, we can increase its stiffness and strengthen the calf as well. If you aren't already, I'd consider integrating calf raises into your regular strengthening routine, including both slow single leg calf raises and bounding exercises.

- Nathan Brown PT, DPT, OCS



RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt:  My major recommendation for the Altra Paradigm 6 is the same I have had for many Altra shoes. The heel does fit on the wider side, which does cause some heel slippage. I like the more flexible heel counter, but would like to see some other methods to lock the rearfoot down better. An external heel counter may work well, potentially extending the side walls into the rearfoot a little more. Other than that I think this is an excellent training option. I would like to see the EgoMAX be a little more responsive however. The last Paradigm I ran in was Version 4.0, which used an EGO midsole that was very bouncy and made the shoe feel so much lighter than it was. This shoe has enough stability to handle a little more bounce, so I would like to see a return to that!

David: My main recommendation for the Altra Paradigm 6 lies within the upper construction. The midfoot and forefoot feel pretty good but the heel security could be improved. The heel is a little on the wider end from a static position but the lockdown from the lacing system and collar do not seem to lock it in dynamically super well. Either moving the eyelet a little posteriorly or narrowing the collar might do the trick. 

Nathan: My main recommendations are regarding fit. I'd love a gusseted tongue to hold it stable as well as cinching up the heel and midfoot. All of those together may not only help with  overall comfort, but also with the ability for the shoe to pick up the pace if it locks the foot down a bit better. Otherwise, I am a big fan of this midsole construction and the subtle integration of stability elements. 


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

Matt: The Altra Paradigm 6 is a max cushion stable zero drop training shoe for those who want a zero drop shoe for longer runs/mileage or for those interested in transitioning to zero drop shoes. The guiderails, slightly firmer ride, flex grooves, filled in midfoot and wider last make for a highly stable but natural ride, so those with and without stability needs will feel comfortable here. The ride is extremely smooth with an excellent combination of toespring and forefoot flexibility that takes the edge of being a zero drop shoe. The fit is on the wider side and while the laces can be locked down, most people will need to lace lock the heel. The Altra Paradigm 6 excellent mileage shoe for those experienced with or new to zero drop shoes.

Editor's Note: For those new to zero drop shoes, please transition slowly. We encourage you to work on calf mobility, calf strength and balance before, during and after your transition as well. 


David: The Altra Paradigm 6 is a maximum cushion training shoe (though firmer riding) for those who enjoy a balanced and natural feeling ride. The midsole and shoe are not overly responsive but does give you a consistent ride mile after mile with some mild to moderate flexibility through the toe off. For those that are sensitive to heel security they may want to look at some other models, however the Paradigm 6 is a relatively stable and consistent 0mm drop max cushion option worth looking at. The Paradigm has more than enough structure and outsole to work as a workhorse trainer for those that like the things mentioned above. 

Nathan: The Altra Paradigm 6 is going to suit those who prefer a highly cushioned and firmer ride and are looking for a shoe to eat up casual and high mileage. Additionally, the shoe will work best for those with a higher volume foot. Despite the higher stack, the flex grooves do allow for the shoe to run more on the natural end versus a more stiff rocker soled shoe. It has versatile stability elements that will suit neutral runners as well as those who need some guidance from either side. For those who do best with stability elements placed under the foot (such as posts), this might not be your best option. Finally, given the construction, this could be a nice transition shoe to 0mm drop.



GRADING

Matt
Fit: B+ (Wider fit throughout that is comfortable but has some heel slippage that requires lace locking)
Performance: 
B (Smooth ride for a zero drop shoe for longer miles. A consistent trainer. Not very responsive however)
Stability: A (Excellent use of natural stability methods. Great guide rails, filled in midfoot,  longitudinal flex grooves, toespring and forefoot flexibility)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (Fantastic methods of stability while also providing a smooth ride that will be excellent for those wanting to experiment with zero drop shoes. The forefoot flexibility and toe spring both work well to make the zero drop less noticeable, while those with tight calves that may try to compensate with the midfoot will find themselves still gently guided forward)
Personal: B (A great shoe with an excellent transition that I honestly love most for walking and casual wear. I don't usually do well in zero drop shoes, particularly as I am rehabbing a mild Achilles irritation.  This one does well, however it isn't the most responsive shoe)
Overall: B+ (An great shoe for longer mileswith a smooth ride and a wider fit that is especially good for those interested in transition to zero drop shoes)

David
Fit: B+ (Overall pretty good in the forefoot and midfoot however heel security and collar can be improved for lockdown both statically and dynamically)
Performance: 
B (Overall a consistent shoe throughout with relatively smooth heel, midfoot, and forefoot transitions. Not too much responsiveness throughout. Turning could be a little better, but a consistent workhorse.)
Stability: B+ (Firm and consistent ride, wide platform, well integrated guide rail, however heel security could be better)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Deep flex grooves for the rigid platform work well, bevel to the heel and forefoot are nice)
Personal:  B+ (I like the Paradigm 6. I do wish it was a little bit more responsive and lively but it is a shoe that can easily take on some long mileage day after day. Heel security could be improved.)
Overall: B/B+ (An all around balanced shoe that fits well in the maximum cushioning category. Consistent for miles though lacks some responsiveness in the forefoot and some security in the heel)

Nathan

Fit: B- (Sloppy in the midfoot and the heel, but really nice upper materials and a comfortable toe box)
Performance: 
B (Consistent and protective, smooth transitions, best for slower and higher milage, not super versatile)
Stability: A- (Solid stability integration, just a bit sloppy from an upper perspective)
DPT/Footwear Science: A (A unique stability shoe option without a post and an approachable 0 drop shoe)
Personal:  B/B+ (A nice easy day milage shoe that gives me a nice 0mm drop option in my rotation, but just feels a bit too heavy for lots of milage for me)
Overall: (A unique and "more" fun premium stability option)
  
ALTRA PARADIGM 6 VIDEO REVIEW



The team got together to discuss the Altra Paradigm 6 and tips for transitioning to a zero drop shoe.

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR


Find the Altra Paradigm 6 at Running Warehouse here. Using the link to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

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FURTHER READING

Visit our Stability Shoe Guide for more on stability and comparative shoes to the Paradigm 6.

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Thanks for reading!

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TESTER PROFILES:


Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything.

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing,

Nathan Brown PT DPT OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy 
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics 

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-50 miles per week at a variety of paces from 8:00-9:00 min/mile for recovery runs to 6:45-7:15 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. 

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at Altra for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Contact us at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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