Chaging from heel strike to forefoot landing

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31/07/2013 at 22:43

I read 'Chi Running' and followed the advice in there; transitioning to a forefoot strike wasn't a problem for me; I don't know why, but it just felt quite natural.  

I've read a few people here suffering with their calfs; one of the things that 'Chi Running' said was that we shouldn't use our calf muscles to propell us forward.  They're a small muscle - in comparison with our bodies - and aren't designed to move our weight.

hth

Edited: 31/07/2013 at 22:44
31/07/2013 at 23:26

Calf muscle helps absorb a lot of the impact in forefoot running, hence many people new to it experiencing stiffness/ discomfort until they have built up calves sufficiently to deal with this.

Once foot is planted quads and glutes do most of the propelling with just an extra flourish from the calf to finnish, adding that extra spring in your step.

Edited: 31/07/2013 at 23:27
01/08/2013 at 00:33

Roger the Dodger,

Interesting point about the shoe size. I've figured I'm a size 9 for years. Measured myself for a pair of Xeroshoes and came out as 262 mm. size 8!

 

01/08/2013 at 09:02
cj dwrote (see)

Roger the Dodger,

Interesting point about the shoe size. I've figured I'm a size 9 for years. Measured myself for a pair of Xeroshoes and came out as 262 mm. size 8!

 

Yes because you dont have to allow for padding with sandals

04/08/2013 at 09:35

Just in case anybody is still following this thread,

My feet have been feeling better with each run and last fridays run was for 20 min solid forefoot style and no aches & pains the following day

Only a tight left leg calf muscle, which is nearly healed today and should be ok for tomorrows run (hopefully).

04/08/2013 at 12:03

On shoe size be careful.  Different makes use different sizes 9.5 in one shoe may not be the same as 9.5 in another.  Even the same manufacturer will change sizing from year to year.   this year's model of Newtons shoes is narrower than the previous year's. So you have to by half a size larger for the same fit.

05/08/2013 at 09:18

I come up a bit smaller in my xeroshoes. But good thing with sandals you wear them how you feel comfortable, so I could have them a bit bigger or trim them down

XX1
05/08/2013 at 12:04
TheVicar wrote (see)

I come up a bit smaller in my xeroshoes. But good thing with sandals you wear them how you feel comfortable, so I could have them a bit bigger or trim them down

I'd suggest going for a couple of sizes too large...  Then put them on and trim around your feet to size 

XX1
06/08/2013 at 10:21

I just want to describe a transition to forefoot that I began about two years ago (I don't remember the date precisely). I define completion as running a trail marathon forefoot with no particular ill effects due to forefooting.

The transition started with very sore calves even after a k or two. I gradually increased the amount. I also run with a much wider variety of shoes now, and never use the same pair consecutively: about 10 pairs, everything from Altra Zerodrop and Merrell low drops, through Hoka lowdrop/high cushion, to conventional Asics and Salomon road and trail shoes. I can forefoot in all of them but prefer a low or zero drop so the heel doesn't get in the way. I still like to have a bit of cushioning so I sometimes use a double insole because low drop often means low inbuilt cushioning. The only remaining residual problems are a tendency to scuff the forefoot on landing, and difficulty forefooting on steep downhills.

The main effects are 1) I like the way the running looks and feels - I used to look like a shuffler 2) my cadence has gone up to usually 190+ as stride has shortened to avoid heelstriking 3) I have an extra option for how the foot lands when picking a tricky route betwen rocks and roots on technical trails.

The marathon in question when I finally felt I could test running totally forefoot for the whole event was when I was pacemaker for a friend. I took about 45 minutes longer than I normally would for this marathon (it was my sixth go) so that relaxed pace could also have contributed to the lack of an ill effects. In fact, the next day if I had lost my memory I wouldn't have known I ran a mara the day before. (In total I have run twenty-odd marathons and do about 300 km per month currently.) On the track here you can see the cadence approaching 200 usually.

I don't really know why I decided to change - I just wondered if it was possible. Having done it, I prefer the style of running aesthetically and think of it more like an extra arrow in the quiver rather than a religious conversion. One physiological conclusion could be that it is possible for muscles (eg calves) to adapt to eccentric contraction but that is something I haven't looked into confirming independently yet.

XX1
06/08/2013 at 12:41

SC -- Wow!  A cadence of 200 is pretty high...  Do you have any advice or suggestions on how cadence can be increased?  Apart from, obviously, run faster...  I can't seem to get mine much over 170, and that's on a good day.

XX1
06/08/2013 at 14:13

Cadence 180-200? It just came that way as a result of shortening the stride to avoid stretching out for a heel landing. I read a tip somewhere that to go faster, visualise stretching out the leg behind you rather than reaching forward for the next step.

I'm not fast, but I admit that's a quick turnover compered with most. (My marathon as a 56 yo is about 3:35 to 40, 10 km about 43, 5 km about 21). I'm probably running a bit like Chi running except that I just cannot wholefoot-strike without curling my toes up, and that feels unnatural. Instead, I forefoot and make sure I also do a light heel contact to avoid looking like I'm prancing round on tiptoes. I try to remember not to do too much vertical oscillation. Some people say it looks graceful compared with how I used to run as a "shuffler". One commented that I was bouncing too much but I believe the legs might just look like that whereas the head is pretty stable.

Another tip for keeping up the cadence generally and for slack downhills is to have slightly soft knees. This puts slightly more load on the quads but stops the wasteful oscillation or reduces impact. It's something to experiment with, and I tend to remember it only on the downhills.

06/08/2013 at 15:56
Kevin Saunders 3 wrote (see)

Just in case anybody is still following this thread,

My feet have been feeling better with each run and last fridays run was for 20 min solid forefoot style and no aches & pains the following day

Only a tight left leg calf muscle, which is nearly healed today and should be ok for tomorrows run (hopefully).

Well how wrong was i.

Went out Monday morning at 5am felt ok after a 5 min brisk walk, then into the run i went as the voice in my earphones told me from my C25K app, i got about a mile and my left calf muscle went again.

The pain was so bad i couldn't continue even though i tried after trying to stretch the calf out on the edge of the curb but to no avail i had to abort the run(gutted).

I hobbled the remaining mile back home sulking like a wounded dog, got changed and went to work.

I sit here now writing this out wanting to get out but know i cant and proberbly wont be able to now for at least a week or till its healed properly.

If any of you could offer any advice to try to stop my calf going again please feel free im all ears.

Thanks from one wounded, gutted and feeling sorry for oneself runner

XX1
06/08/2013 at 17:29

KS3 -- You could try calf guards...  I doubt there's any sound scientific evidence that conclusively proves they're of any benefit but a lot of folk swear by them... Also, whilst returning from injury you could also wear a calf support but not for any longer than absolutely necessary.

XX1
06/08/2013 at 17:46
Taxi Driver wrote (see)

KS3 -- You could try calf guards...  I doubt there's any sound scientific evidence that conclusively proves they're of any benefit but a lot of folk swear by them... Also, whilst returning from injury you could also wear a calf support but not for any longer than absolutely necessary.

Never heared of them, but thanks anyway ill google them

07/08/2013 at 14:46

You might find them under leg sleeves. Having said that, I'm one of the doubters.

Since one rationale for forefooting is to supposedly prevent injuries due to heelstriking, yet it is causing you an injury, one has to ask why you would want to carry on trying. If you do, you clearly need to cut back on the amount of forefooting in any one outing and build very gradually and carefully.

I suppose maybe you could be picking up an injury associated with unaccustomed running in general, rather than forefooting per se, but that's hard for me to judge. The fact that you are on the C25K program makes me think that. In that case, you have a long-term project to gradually strengthen the sinews and ligaments, which takes longer than the muscles and aerobic system. So if this is likely to be the case, don't jump with both feet into so much forefooting!

07/08/2013 at 15:58

Steve c

I think the cause was i changed to minimlist shoes part way through the program and went straight into a 20min run.

I am seriously thinking about starting the C25K program from the begining again with my minimlist shoes (as i have thrown my old ones away) but obviously not till my current injury has gone completly.

07/08/2013 at 23:38

What is common is for runners to wear shoes with a raised heel, ie not minimalist but still fore or midfoot strike.

What happens is that when you fore or mid foot strike you stretch the calf muscle far more than when you heel strike. When you wear minimalist shoes you stretch it that much more.

The idea is that if you wear shoes with heel cushioning then you only stretch the calf as much as you would when heel striking.

I did read quite an indepth theory (can't remember how much research based it was) but didn't bookmark it so don't know where to find it.

I would suggest trying out something like Nike Frees, the least minimal. They have tons of cushioning and aren't too expensive. I like them as a slightly heavier training shoe. Again, heavier shoes are good for muscle developement.

Other things you could look at is slowing down your running, avoid hills and avoid running on the road. Introduce these things slowly.

Maybe add quinoa to your diet. It's got the full range of amino acids and has the mitochondria that promotes muscle growth which is what you need to do do lengthen your calf muscles.

Also look at your everyday footwear. If you have heels on you normal shoes this will not help you running in minimalist shoes. Try going barefoot at home and wearing flat shoes casually at least some of the time.

08/08/2013 at 10:02

whm that is an excellent description of the problem IMHO and a there is a video of exactly this point about forefooting with a minimalist shoe on vimeo

08/08/2013 at 11:16

Kevin, I suffered problems with both calf muscles after switching to fore/midfoot striking because of stability problems. I initially tried Inov8 Road X255's, which I found too hard for me as an old geezer, then I tried Saucony Mirage which had more cushioning but I still had persistent problems. Eventually I was recommended Saucony Powergrid Hurricane 15's as they are suited to midfoot strikers but have much more cushioning & stability too. First time out they felt much better & (touch wood) I've been ok since, I still get tight calfs but I have also used & like the compression sleeves. Perhaps minimalist shoes are a step too far? They were for me!

08/08/2013 at 15:53

I switched from heel-strick to fore-foot-strike by spending 6 months in VFFs at the start of 2010 and starting from scratch ... you cannot heel strike in VFFs (it hurts!), so you quickly adapt. Calf muscles needed some conditioning but that came alongside the slow build up. I then switched to racing flats and have been in them ever since.

Edited: 08/08/2013 at 15:54
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