Which Foot Strike is Best to Keep Your Running Faster, & Injury-Free?

I have been the victim of a poor foot strike. At one time, I thought in order to run faster I need to spend more time running. This seemed completely logical to me. I have read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers book that says you need 10,000 hours of doing something to get good at it. I spend hours and hours running and this crazy thing happened to me. Instead of becoming a faster runner, I became a slower and injured runner.

It took some time but eventually learned that I became injured because of my poor running technique. The Pose Method taught me about proper technique. I learned how I can put in more miles and run faster without all the pain and suffering from the damaging impact on my body.

One method in figuring out if you have poor running technique is to look at your foot strike patterns. A poor foot strike is the result of poor posture and technique.

There are 3 different foot strike types

  • The Heel Strike
  • Midfoot Strike
  • Forefoot Strike

The Heel Strike

The foot strike where you land on your heel is the worst foot strike for the runner. The heel strike is the result of taking too big of strides with a slow cadence. Unfortunately, this is the foot strike of most runners. It is also why so many people hate running. Depending on the study that you read, up to 94.2% of long-distance runners experience some sort of running-related injury.

Example of Heel Strike

Why is the Heel Strike so bad?

  • Locked and stiff joints – this causes joint pain and damage with every step you take. Each time you land on your heel it sends shock waves up your body. This creates damage with every step you take.
  • Breaking effect – Ever step you take with a heel strike put the brakes on. I don’t know about you, but when I run I want to put the foot on the pedal and not the brakes.
  • Joints absorb impact – Have you ever had joint pain while running? It is because your joints are absorbing the impact. Joints don’t like absorbing the impact. This leads to injury.

Adding up the steps:

  • Running a Marathon ( 26.2 miles ) = 1.6 million inches
  • 1 step =  30 inches
  • 1.6 million inches: 30 inches = 55.000 steps during a marathon ( on average)
  • During a Heel strike, your body absorbs 3x of your body weight
  • If your bodyweight is for example 150 Lbs
  • 3 x (150 ) x 55.000 = about 25 million pounds!

That means over a course of a marathon your joints have to absorb about 25 million pounds of unnecessary force. This leads to many of the common running injuries.

The Midfoot Strike

Many runners think that a midfoot strike is the best for running. In a study published in 2004, it revealed that midfoot strikers experienced as much load on the knees as a heel striker. You may feel less jolt on the body with a mid-foot strike but it will not keep from experiencing injuries.

Example of Midfoot Strike

The disadvantage of a Midfoot Strike :

  • No consistency – This foot strike is hard to reproduce consistently.
  • Excess tension on the knee – Your knees will hurt with a midfoot strike. Ouch! Let’s keep the knees happy and not land on our midfoot.

Forefoot Strike

The forefoot strike is the end result of good form. It is the product of proper body alignment and good running technique.

Forefoot Strike

  • No breaking effect – You are not putting on the brakes every time you take a step.
  • Unlocked joints – Your body absorbs the shock saving your joints.
  • Reduces the eccentric knee load by 50% – Keeps your knees happy.

Conclusion

Picture of good foot strike while running

Pay attention to your foot strike if you experience pain in your joints while running. It could be the result of improper body alignment and poor running technique. Do you feel that you are not where you want to be as a runner? Considers attending one of our Become a Better Runner Clinics. We will let you know about your foot strike. and any other issues that are keeping you from being the runner that you would like to be. Start 2019 with the goal of running faster, farther, and injury free!

Find out more about us.

More articles on our blog.

Categories injury prevention, running, running form, running technique

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