Jim2's Running Page

Foot Strike

Home
About Me
Favorite Links
Contact Me

6/22/98 

It's generally best to let your foot strike in whatever way is natural. Only tamper with it if your natural style is causing a problem. The only exception to this is for very severe heel strikers.

Most runners are heel strikers. A mid-foot strike is a good compromise between running efficiency and injury risk. And forefoot strikers are in the minority, by far. So, which is best?? There are advantages to each.

One reason nature has made most of us heel strikers is so we can pronate as we roll through our stride, which is a natural cushioning bio-mechanic. Although over-pronation is bad and can lead to injuries, normal pronation is good and desirable. A forefoot strike limits pronation, thus denying you one of nature's cushions.

It's important to run in the proper type of shoes, depending on individual biomechanics. Forefoot strikers and heel strikers who do not over pronate should wear "cushioning" shoes. Heel strikers who are also over pronators need "stability" or "motion control" shoes.

A forefoot strike generates more power, thus enabling faster running, but isn't as efficient as heel or midfoot striking. That's why sprinters always "run on their toes." Also, many elite long distance runners are forefoot strikers. But, not all are. Few marathoners are forefoot strikers. Footstrike is only one factor that determines how fast you can run over a long distance. And, generally, the longer the distance, the less important the power of forefoot striking is and the more important is the efficiency of heel/midfoot striking.

Runners often reach a point where they want to try things to make them just a little faster. For a heel striker, changing the foot strike to midfoot is one way to get faster. However, going from heel striking to the forefoot is a very extreme, difficult and risky change. So, the midfoot is a good compromise.....a little more speed with less increase in injury risk. And most heel strikers can make this transition with a little practice. Forefoot strikers have no such motivation to change.

Forefoot running might, and I emphasize "might", make you more injury prone. If a forefoot striker suffers injuries or shin splints as his/her running progresses, especially as distances increase, s/he might want to consider working on a mid-foot strike. But, as long as shoe selection provides the cushioning need, there is no reason to change anything. A dramatic change to natural stride and foot strike might be the most risky thing s/he could do.

Basically, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Jim2