Through the eye of a sports physiotherapist
We watch the general public run and more often than not they heel strike. We watch Usain Bolt run the 100m and he is right up on to his forefoot. We watch a group of world-class marathon runners and we see mid and forefoot striking going on.
So the question must be asked as to Who is Right?
In order to start to understand who may be right, we must consider many factors, here are three important ones:
Contact with the ground – how far in front of your body (centre of gravity – COG) does your foot strike the ground? The further forward your strike is from your COG the greater the impact forces are and therefore the nearer to the COG means less impact.
Type of foot strike – heel strike is generally associated with a longer front stride. Trying to heel strike under your COG is mighty difficult and would generally change the type of landing to a mid or forefoot strike. Forefoot strikes utilise the bodies natural suspension system and decrease the amount of muscular involvement required for the same effort – i.e less energy cost.
Cadence – research suggests that the slower the cadence (number of foot strikes per minute) the longer the time spent on the ground with every stride. This means that the potential for tissue overload is far greater as the elastic potential of the tissue is lost.
So what does this mean?
By making the stride shorter and closer to your COG, landing mid to fore foot and increasing your cadence you will:
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Reduce the amount of impact on landing
- Reduce the time spent on the ground and increase the use of the bodies natural suspension system (elastic potential of the tissue)
- Increase the bodies economy – leaving you more energy to direct toward decreasing your times
Be careful though. Transitioning from a rear to a mid or fore foot strike may seriously damage your health – and MUST be done with a careful programme that gradually introduces the concept into your training.
For more information on this or if you would like to book in for one of our running assessment workshops, please feel free to contact our team on 01628 639532.