There are various running techniques, and each has its benefits and disadvantages. One of the most debated techniques is whether or not to land on your heel when running. While some trainers and runners advocate this approach, others suggest that landing on your forefoot is the best option. So, which is the right way to go about it?
The foot and its system
The foot is a complex made up of 26 bones, numerous joints, ligaments and muscles. This complex system allows the human being to move in an upright position, regardless of the type of ground. The foot carries and cushions the loads of our upright body during both walking and running. Its structure allows its properties to change due to complex movements in the joints of the tarsal bones.
During gait, the alignment of the foot and muscle tone dynamically change. This complex cushioning mechanism is unique – it requires the cooperation of the capsular-ligamentous system and the correct muscle tone to work properly.
When the heel lands on the ground, it is flexible and ready for cushioning. It becomes rigid when we bounce. When landing on the heel, the foot is biomechanically prepared to cushion the weight of our body, and when we rebound from the toes, it becomes rigid to transfer the energy generated by the calf and thigh muscles as efficiently as possible.
Heel Striking vs. Forefoot Striking
Heel striking is landing on your heel while running, while forefoot striking is landing on the balls of your feet. A heel strike is a common running technique that’s been used for years. However, recent research indicates that this approach can lead to various injuries, including shin splints and stress fractures. On the other hand, forefoot striking is a more recent technique that runners have adopted. It involves landing on the balls of your feet, with toes engaging the ground first.
Benefits of Landing on Your Forefoot
One of the most significant advantages of landing on your forefoot is that it can reduce the impact on your joints. Since you are landing on the balls of your feet, your calf muscles are engaging, and they act as shock absorbers. This action means that your body can absorb the impact of landing much better than when you’re landing on your heels. As a result, the risk of injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures is reduced.
Disadvantages of Landing on Your Heel
Landing on your heel has several disadvantages. One of the most significant problems is that it can cause injuries. When you land on your heel, you put a lot of pressure on your knee and hip joints, leading to overuse injuries. Moreover, landing on your heel instead of the balls of your feet also slows you down while running.
Running technique – which is better?
Thus, landing on the heel has its biomechanical justification. Running from the midfoot deprives the foot of its cushioning properties, thus putting the calf muscle or Achilles tendon at risk of strain or even injury. Up to 20% of runners experience foot and Achilles problems, so it is a relatively common affliction for runners! It is therefore worth minimising the risk and running ‘from the heel’.
How to Change Your Running Technique
If you’re used to landing on your heel while running, it might be challenging to switch to forefoot striking. However, with regular practice and patience, you can eventually master it. Start by landing on the balls of your feet and lifting your heels off the ground when running. It’s also essential to maintain a good posture and lean forward slightly to engage your calf muscles.
Are Running Shoes Important?
The type of running shoe you wear can also affect your running technique. If you’re used to landing on your heel, it’s best to opt for shoes that provide heel cushioning. Conversely, if you’re into forefoot striking, then your footwear should have a minimal heel to toe drop.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, landing on your forefoot while running is the way to go. The technique helps reduce the impact on your joints and avoid injuries. Although it might take some time to master, with regular practice, anyone can improve their running technique. Additionally, wearing the right pair of shoes can also make a significant difference in your running performance.
|Michael F. Bergeron||The Importance of Proper Footstrike||https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/6545/the-importance-of-proper-footstrike/|
|Mark Cucuzzella||Why You Should Be Running on the Balls of Your Feet||https://www.outsideonline.com/2399972/why-you-should-be-running-balls-your-feet|
|Elizabeth Millard||Heel-toe Running vs. Forefoot Running: Which is Best?||https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/heel-toe-running-vs-forefoot-running-which-best|