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Altra Paradigm 7: Zero Drop Stability
By Matt Klein and Bach Pham

The Altra Paradigm 7 has held the unique spot of THE moderate stability zero drop daily training shoe. While the majority of higher-level stability shoes have an 8-12mm heel drop (Horizon, Kayano, Adrenaline, etc), the Paradigm series serves as the only one of the group to be zero drop. It fits in more now as more of this group have moved away from traditional posts and have gone toward guidance-based stability. The sidewalls in the Paradigm are less unique given their integration into mainstream shoes like the Kayano. However, it still holds a special place in the market for a specific population looking for this combination of features.

Altra Paradigm 7
Price: $169.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 9.3 oz, 263 g (men's size 9), 8.0 oz, 226 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 30 mm / 30 mm
Sizing: Men's 7-13, Women's 5.5-12
Drop: 0 mm
Classification: Moderate to High Stability Zero Drop Daily Trainer


Matt: The Altra Paradigm 7 is a zero drop, moderate stability, anatomically fitting daily training shoe. Large sidewalls and a wider platform provide a naturally guided and stable ride. A slightly long and wider fit provide plenty of room for those with wider and higher-volume feet. The ride runs firm and stiff, providing additional stability, but keep this shoe best for easy miles and walking. The Altra Paradigm 7 continues to hold a unique place as the lone higher-level, zero-drop stability shoe on the market.

Bach: The Paradigm fills a highly specific void in the stability world with a zero drop, guidance-based stability shoe. It also uniquely has no heel counter. These elements make it a bit of a rare shoe for someone looking for a very wide, high volume fitting stability platform that is non-intrusive underfoot.

PAST MODEL: Altra Paradigm 6


Matt: The Altra Paradigm 7 fits me slightly long in my normal men's US size 10. If you are between sizes, you may want to consider going down a half size if you want a closer fit. If you want more room, stick with your normal size. The width is normal to slightly wide with a large anatomic forefoot. The volume in the forefoot is also higher with plenty of stretch vertically. The midfoot fits normally but I had to really tighten down the laces to get a secure fit with the longer length. The tongue is thinner and non-gusseted. I did have some issues with translation to the medial side but fortunately, this did not cause any major issues. The heel features moderate to thin heel collar cushioning with a highly flexible heel counter. Those with heel sensitivities should be fine although there is a little bit more stiffness a the posterior most aspect of the counter. I would suggest keeping socks on for this shoe as the upper is comfortable but the area underneath the distal (far) tongue attachment is scratchy. 

Bach: The Paradigm 7 is one of the more voluminous fitting stability shoes I've tried. It's got a good amount of width in the forefoot and through the length of the shoe, along with a decent amount of volume. For wide foot runners, it might be good right out of the box in a normal size. For particularly wide feet though, there is also a wide Paradigm option, but I would recommend testing the regular fit first. With the extra volume, I did have one run in the thinnest socks I own which felt a bit insecure. I had some numbness in my pinky toe as a result of the extra width. I was able to resolve it with thicker socks that created a better fit thankfully. For those with narrow feet, it might run a bit too big. Narrow footed male runners may want to consider the women's version as an alternative. If you are inbetween sizes, I would try sizing down.

There is a very flexible heel counter and a soft upper in general that is stretchy and comfortable. I did want to lace lock the shoe for extra security with the wider fit, but the midfoot being so voluminous and flexible, lace locking the shoe left the midfoot insecure so I stuck with regular lacing. Lacing regularly did leave a bit of pressure over the midfoot as I tightened the laces down to cover the extra volume.


Matt: The Altra Paradigm 7 is a slightly firmer and stiff daily training shoe. There is full-length EgoMAX midsole provides a slightly firmer and mildly bouncy midsole. The shoe comes in at 9.3 oz for men's size 9 but feels slightly heavier than that. The zero drop is certainly noticeable and feels more apparent due to the slightly longer fit. There is a posterior lateral heel bevel, however it is combined with a decent amount of posterior sole flare. This makes for a slightly early heel contact, which feels a little clunky. The midfoot transitions decently but moves to an oddly stiff forefoot. While the stiffness of the sole feels good side to side, longitudinally it makes this shoe a little clunky until you warm up to a decent pace. Purpose-wise the Altra Paradigm 7 is best for easy efforts. While it runs lighter than most moderate to high-stability shoes, the slightly longer fit, heel flare and stiffer ride make it difficult to pick up the pace. Thus, those that want a stable zero drop shoe that is a little stiff will do best here. 

While the shoe is a bit stiff and a little clunky, the trade off is the durability is excellent. I have found several Altra shoes in the last several years to have poor durability with early wear on the outsole. Despite 20 miles in my pair, the Paradigm 7 have no wear on the outsole. Thus, I expect an above average number of miles out of these. The traction is good on normal paved surfaces and track. While it may do fine on mild trail, there are far better options for trail shoes from Altra. 

Bach: The Paradigm in many ways feels very traditional. It has a fairly flat platform from heel-to-toe, particularly so as a zero drop shoe. The foam is EVA and on the firmer side (closer to middle of the road than totally firm). The ride is theoretically best at daily training, but I found the shoe most responsive slightly uptempo. At slower paces, the rearfoot can feel clunky as Matt calls it. The shoe always felt best mid-run for me. Once I get into a good rhythm, the ride gets a bit smoother; the Paradigm being a far lighter shoe than most stability trainers, it turns over well. The forefoot is on the stiff side and a touch slappy on the road, but has the most mild of bounce which does help. The shoe does fine with uphill running, and is about average for downhill running - not due to stability, but the Paradigm becomes a little extra slappy going downhill.

The shoe is best for daily distances. The cushioning is on the low-to-moderate side: more than something like the Brooks Launch GTS, similar to the Arahi, and less cushioned than the Kayano 30. I found myself wanting a bit more for anything longer than an hour.

The traction is solid, I had no issues on wet roads and took it off roads and onto decently paved dirt trail, gravel and grass just fine. If you'd like to mix terrain slightly on your runs, the Paradigm is fine for tackling a few different surfaces as long as they aren't technical.

I did find the shoe to be a very good walking shoe. This might be a consideration for runners who want a low profile trainer for a mixture of running and walking. The wider fit does make foot swelling feel comfortable over a lengthy walk. I like the more natural feel of the shoe in general and I think this is a place where the shoe excels.


Matt: The Altra Paradigm 7 is a moderate to high stability/guidance shoe. Both the medial and lateral sides of the heel and midfoot feature large sidewalls that keep the foot centered well. The medial side is particularly large and noticeable. There is no post-like feeling in this shoe, however, the sidewalls do a good job of supporting the foot during motion. The sidewalls are less noticeable when just standing, although there is an arch to this shoe that comfortably fits my foot. The midfoot also stays wide, which provides additional guidance and centering. The forefoot is wide with additional torsional stiffness that provides natural stability but does not feature sidewalls. Finally, the overall stiffness and slightly firmer ride also add to the stable platform. Overall, those looking for a higher-level guidance shoe with massive sidewalls in the heel and midfoot will do best in the Paradigm 7.

Bach: The Paradigm has a moderate-to-high level of guidance (for me). The guide rails in the Paradigm aims are built to center you when you aren't running straight and narrow. The guidance was least noticeable as I ran slightly faster. At slower, normal daily training speeds, I found the guide rails to be noticeable at the beginning of runs as I warmed up and as I fatigued at the end of runs. It has a slight a Pinocchio-on-strings effect with me working to try and shape up and shake through the guidance by cleaning up my form. Some people who do have stability needs may like that, but some may find it a bit disruptive. The guide rails are essentially act as a signal in my experience to tighten up. I had mixed feelings about it. I think it is helpful in sending me a message that I can clean my form up, but sometimes I frankly am just tired and want to live my life, and that is where the Paradigm and I had our disagreements. If you are willing to conform to the game, that's when the Paradigm excels as a shoe for your arsenal. I would not say the Altra's guidance is as persuasive as the GuideRails from Brooks, especially in the Beast or Adrenaline, but is more akin to the Hyperion GTS or Launch GTS.

I did find the stability was not intrusive underfoot like posting can be which was good for my flat feet. There is a very wide base throughout the majority of the shoe which I did like very much. The firmer sole also offers a stable platform in tandem with the width.

Thoughts as a DPT: Moving Beyond Stereotyping Stability Needs
By Matthew Klein

For a long time, the majority of stability shoes maintained a high degree of stiffness in the rearfoot and maintained higher heel drops. Looking through the progression of practice guidelines, while it was thought that all pronation and supination came from the subtalar joint, we now know excessive movement can come from a variety of places. We are finally in an age where we understand more about how the entire foot and body move and HOPEFULLY, clinicians can keep assessing the individual people presenting to them rather than stereotyping everyone to have the same drivers of their issues (although with the understanding that not all foot/ankle/lower extremity pathologies are caused by pronation). 

While those with stiff and limited mobility of their talocrural (ankle) joints may benefit from a higher drop shoe, those that have good mobility there yet continue to have laxity in the subtalar joint, midfoot or even forefoot may not do well with a higher drop shoe. In some cases, a higher drop shoe can actually increase the lever arm and contribute to the increased speed of pronation, which can often be a bigger problem than how much motion someone goes through. The reason for this is that higher speeds mean greater eccentric stress on muscles and tendons as they try to control the movement (often during initial contact/landing and midstance). Fast eccentric loads create the most muscles damage and thus the greatest POTENTIAL (everyone is different) risk for pathology if the individual overtrains, doesn't sleep enough, has inadequate nutrition except (running injuries are always multifactorial). 

In fact, for those with normal calf and talocrural mobility, a lower-drop shoe may be more stable. This generally keeps the foot lower to the ground and with the firmer ride of the Paradigm 7, there is a great deal of inherent stability beyond the massive sidewalls. This is why, although we have some recommendations for its improvement, the Paradigm 7 is still an important shoe to have accessible to runners and patients in order to meet the variety of potential biomechanical reasons someone might need more stability. 


Matt: While I appreciate the space this shoe fills, there are several things that highly suggest be modified. The slightly long fit means that my forefoot is not hitting the right part of the forefoot rocker (what little there is), which adds to the stiffness of the ride. If the fit can be modified to be more true to size, that may improve the ride. This is slightly odd as Altra shoes have generally fit me slightly long and not short. While I am enjoying the lighter weight, I was surprised at how firm the EgoMax foam was. This felt extremely different from prior versions of the Paradigm. Although this may add some inherent stability, the comfort feels lower because of it. The significant sidewalls are doing plenty, so softening the ride and really letting the EgoMax shine may benefit not only the comfort of this shoe but also the ride. 

Bach: On the fit side, I would love to see the Paradigm a little bit more snug so it feels a bit more dialed in fit-wise, especially with wide sizes being an option. The ride alone could be improved by just making the shoe feel more one piece through lockdown. As far as ride, I really feel a larger heel bevel would help smoothen the ride out a good bit.

I think there is some room for a slightly softer, more responsive sole without sacrificing stability. At $170, there are some foams out there right now in the stability realm that are just a bit more responsive and standout - albeit without as voluminous of a fit or zero drop.

The other not change per se, but addition I would love to see Altra make is also taking the jump to add a rockered 4mm drop shoe with their guide rail system. I think the option would be exceptional to have in their lineup and add a really competitive option to the only other low drop stability options in the Hoka Arahi and Topo Ultrafly.


Matt: The Altra Paradigm 7 is for those who want a zero drop, anatomic, moderate stability shoe. Those who need more length and volume in the forefoot will do particularly well with the higher volume and long fit. The ride is firmer, stiff with a long transition, so those who tend to like staying low to the ground will enjoy the ride. Finally, those who prefer higher level guidance in the form of large sidewalls will be right at home here given the presence of the ones in the heel/midfoot of the Paradigm 7. While this shoe did not work for me due to fit and me not hitting the right transition point up front, it still holds an important and rare place of being a moderate to high stability zero drop shoe. Those with hypermobility issues may do well here given the availability of motion allowed at the talocrural joint while stiffening and guiding the rest of the foot. The cost is in line with other shoes in this category and particularly with the higher durability should somewhat justify its cost. Some work needs to be done to smooth out the transition but for those who match with the above, this may be a decent choice for training miles. 

Bach: The Paradigm 7 fills a very unique space in the running shoe market that some runners may find ideal. Between it's voluminous fit, flexible heel counter, guidance, and zero drop, it hits a lot of boxes that might appeal to a set of runners that no other shoe in the market provides. Guidance is still an emerging field in stability, especially at this level of guidance. Brooks of course is a leader in their use of GuideRails, along with Hoka's J-Frame design. I really think guidance is a great branch of stability footwear that hits a slightly broader audience than posting, and while the Paradigm didn't hit all the notes for me in particular, its unique characteristics will work for a subset of runners which is why the power of options is so valuable. Runners who do seek a stability shoe that is guidance-based, natural-feeling, wide-fitting and great for walking will find a lot to like in the Altra.


Fit: (Long, higher volume fit especially in forefoot.)
B- (Slightly firmer ride with mildly clunky heel and stiff forefoot)
Stability: A- [Moderate Stability/Guidance] (Wider sole, large sidewalls in heel/midfoot)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Great sidewall and wider midfoot. Longer fit odd given metatarsal extension will not line up with appropriate flex point of midsole )
Personal: B- (Despite having many features I would normally enjoy, the longer, stiffer and firmer ride is not something I will reach for except for casual/walking use). 

Fit: B (very high volume fit, lengthy - a bit roomy for running, but perfect for walking)
B- (A bit of a confusing ride that feels awkward in heel and uncertain at purpose)
Stability: A- (guidance is fairly significant and impactful, combined with base and flaring)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (in theory a unique design that is one of a kind)
Personal: B- (Inconsistent ride hurts what could be a really fun, effective stability trainer)
Overall: B-


Altra Paradigm 7
Price: $169.95 at Running Warehouse

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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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 pairs.  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 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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