Physio Advice - Heelstrike/Forefoot

4 messages
14/01/2013 at 23:51

Went to see my physio regarding an ongoing injury recently and got to discussing how I run.

I'd always thought that a forefoot "good form" running style was better than heelstriking. I naturally heelstrike but am working towards midfoot/forefoot running, however, my physio suggested that often it is better just to run how you naturally rather than trying too hard to change. Is this true in other people's experience?

15/01/2013 at 09:27

nope.  I was a heel striker 'naturally'.....  i.e. after years of working at a desk, doing step aerobics and weight lifting, when I started to run - naturally I ran in a shuffling motion with a heavy heel strike - 3 marathons later and a whole host of issues, shin splints and ITBS..... I discovered Pose then Chi-running.  Took me a while to change over but I haven't had problems since (about 6 years and 7 marathons).

 

It is of course perfectly possible to run well with a heel strike, however, where you land with that heel can make all the difference - i.e. if it's out in front of you with a straight leg then you are effectively braking every time you land sending all that energy right up the leg missing out all of your natural shock absorbers (your joints) - bit of a recipe for disaster.  If you look at great runners in slow motion - one thing they have in common is that they land under their centre of mass - i.e. their foot to hip to head is in alignment and their joints are soft at impact.

 

Personally I find this easier to do when I midfoot strike.  I didn't speed up particularly but my husband recently decided to change over with the help of a chi-running course - it's like someone stuck a turbo on his back - very annoying.

15/01/2013 at 10:40

Absolutely everything GymAddict says.   Nobody would ever say just swing a golf club naturally, there is a even technique in kicking a ball, running is no different.  

I do think people that have been sporty since they were young - especially if the sport involves running like say football, are very likely to have decent natural technique.   Those that have had a long break from sport are unlikely to have good technique.   For some people it's not just a question of habit but actually conditioning muscles and soft tissues using drills to be able to run "correctly".

15/01/2013 at 11:42

If you are running without injury then you may be one of the lucky ones that has a naturally efficient form that could involve your foot landing anywhere between the toes and the heel. The counter arguments to the "heel strike is bad/unnatural" are now starting to surface, which suggests that heel striking may not be as bad as it has been portrayed (and this may be what your physio was trying to say). 

However, as you started your post with "see my physio regarding an ongoing injury" it suggests that your current running form isn't quite right - so trying to move towards a mid/fore foot strike does sound like an avenue worth pursuing.  Using Chi Running as an example, the mid foot strike is just one aspect of its approach, with your core strength and posture being other important aspects.  So don't ignore the other aspects of good running form.


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