Is Forefoot Running Better Than Heel Striking?

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Every runner has their stride, form, and footstrike. However, there are no certain general rules for proper running style, where the feet land is often a matter of personal choice.

There is no clear winner when it comes to which footstrike is the best, but there are reasons for and against each technique. There’s no need to change your new footstrike if it’s working for you. If you have shin splints or other complications, though, you can use a different approach. Here’s a closer look at the controversy about walking strikes.

Forefoot Running

If you’re a heel striker—the majority of professional runners use this footstrike pattern—you may have learned that minimalist and barefoot training styles prefer landing on the ball or toes of the foot, often known as the forefoot.

While further research is needed in this area, many studies have shown that landing first on the middle or front of the feet and then rolling through the toes improves running efficiency.

As opposed to heel striking, proponents of forefoot running argue that this strategy increases lateral movement and reduces knee tension. Indeed, some evidence suggests that forefoot running is linked to a lower risk of running-related accidents.

Running on your toes, though, will lead to bouncing, which is inefficient. Furthermore, some reports suggest that using this technique can result in repetitive stress injuries to the foot.

It’s worth remembering that running shoes used to have a higher heel-to-toe drop to better steer the foot into hitting the midfoot. However, with the advent of minimalist and low heel-to-toe drop heels, this style is no longer the norm.

Related: How To Choose The Best Long Distance Running Shoes

Midfoot Strike

The midfoot strike landing pattern places the foot’s mid-sole in contact with the ground. Midfoot running proponents claim that the technique helps with shock absorption and reduces joint effects.

Midfoot running, as opposed to heel striking, reduces the amount of time the foot is in contact with the pavement, potentially speeding up the tempo.

However, this style isn’t for everybody, and some runners can find it awkward and unnatural. According to some studies, both midfoot and forefoot running will raise the likelihood of ankle, foot, and Achilles tendon injuries.

Heel Striking

The heel striking strategy is just as it looks like: the heel strikes the ground first, then the midsole, and finally the ankles.

As opposed to forefoot or midfoot racing, most athletes use a rearfoot strike because it feels more normal. The calf muscles and ankles are both stretched and strengthened by heel striking.

However, striking with the back foot makes some runners more vulnerable to overstriding, which can cause knee and hip pain or fracture. The majority of the effect is absorbed by the ankles and elbows, which is why it’s important to wear the proper footwear. Shin splints can be caused by landing on your feet, which puts extra weight on your lower legs.

Some claim that hitting with the heel is slower than striking with the forefoot or midfoot.

How to Change Your Footstrike

Many people believe that altering their footstrike will increase their running economy or lower their chance of injury while running. However, according to studies, these advantages have not been confirmed.

Switching to a midfoot or forefoot strike, for example, did not have a major effect on improving running pace or performance, reducing the influence of foot-ground collision, or reducing the risk of injury, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science.

So, there’s no need to adjust it unless the present footstrike has caused any injury or bad results. If you usually run on your forefoot or kick with your heel, you may want to try a midfoot strike. Although you won’t be able to adjust your footstrike immediately, here are few suggestions to help you make the transition.

Find Your Footstrike Pattern

Take a video of yourself running to figure out what kind of foot striker you are, as only 68 percent of runners were able to correctly report their footstrike style in one survey.

The majority of runners who wear shoes are heel-strikers, according to marathon research. Meanwhile, several reports say that barefoot runners strike with the forefoot to avoid injury, although others claim that some typical barefoot runners strike with the rearfoot. You have a distinct footstrike pattern.

Focus on Your Stride

Just sure you’re not overstretching. Be certain that the feet do not lunge forward. Each move should be focused on landing on the mid-sole of your foot, with your foot immediately under your body. Holding your stride fast and close to the ground requires a quick, low arm swing.

Practice Barefoot Running

When running barefoot, many people would inevitably land in the mid-sole. For brief periods, run on carpet, lawn, or turf without shoes to enable your body to find its natural stride. Begin with 30 seconds and gradually increase to a minute or more.

Running barefoot all the time will lead to injuries. Running brief bursts on a soft, stable surface, on the other hand, helps you to practice landing on your midfoot.

Try Drills

Midfoot landing can also be practiced with running drills like ass kicks, jumping, high feet, running backward, or side shuffles. It’s hard to fall on your heels when doing any of those drills. As a result, the longer you do them, the more you’ll get used to landing on your front foot rather than your heel.

Running exercises can be done as part of your pre-run warm-up or during your run. During a 30-minute sprint, for example, 30-second periods of high knees or backward running may be interspersed every 4–5 minutes.

Experiment During Short Runs

Change your footstrike on shorter runs at first, then work your way up to longer runs. Remember to be careful with yourself as you advance, as it will take months of practice to be able to run in that manner regularly.

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