Learn the Forefoot Running Technique

Forefoot running has gained universal acclaim for being the safest, most efficient way to run!

Mountains of evidence shows that forefoot running prevents all the harmful forms of impacts and other physical stressors produced in heel strike running. This is why forefoot running will make the most positive difference, not just with injury prevention, but your performance, too!

Learn the Forefoot Running Technique

More reasons to run forefoot comes from the observation that ALL sprinters and short distance runners (200m-1500m) as well as most of the best long distance runners (5,000 – marathon) are NOT heel strike runners. They are forefoot runners! Even better, most world record holders in running across all distances are mostly forefoot runners.

With all this in mind, if you are a heel strike runner grappling with injuries or if you are looking to improve your running performance or if you want to start running but are afraid that running is harmful, forefoot running is THE lightening rod that will significantly advance your performance while keeping you injury-free!

We Are Hardwired to Run Forefoot!

Learning forefoot running is much easier than you think because its literally hardwired in us, meaning that our ancestors, who evolved as endurance runners, needed to avoid injury when running barefoot after pray. They needed to run in a way that kept them injury-free, otherwise they would have starved and died out!

The long-list of impact forces produced only in heel strike running doesn’t provide any evolutionary advantage for running long distances or short sprints barefoot. It was the forefoot strike that humans evolved to enable them to be resistant to injury!

Learn the Forefoot Running Technique
Humans evolved to run barefoot, therefore we needed to evolve optimal mechanical defences against  injurious impacts in the absence of underfoot cushioning! This is why we evolved to land with a forefoot strike NOT a heel strike! Heel striking when running is unnatural and will get you no where but hurt, and hating running!

Step 1. What Proper Forefoot Strike Look!

The very first place to start when learning forefoot running is to understand what a proper forefoot strike looks like because forefoot running is NOT toe running. You do not land high up on your toes in forefoot running. Forefoot running actually involves a flatter foot placement, striking the ground lower on the forefoot, just ahead of the arch or on the balls of the foot, then the heel drops down to the ground. Here’s a video I did showing exactly how the foot should land and interact on the ground in forefoot running:

Step 2. Use Barefoot Running to Help You Run Forefoot

The effects of barefoot running, especially on harder surfaces, are immediate in helping you land with optimal forefoot strike precision as well as optimal knee and leg swing mechanics. This is because one of the well-known effects of running barefoot is it improves the brain areas that control movement and activates the sensory receptors in the bottom of the bare foot which have strong links to the withdrawal reflexive system. The net effect of this is stimulating more robust reflexive-withdrawal engagements of the leg and faster improvements in correcting mechanical issues WHILE functionally strengthening the feet!

Because sensory feedback is optimized when you run barefoot, your brain becomes more focused on your landing pattern. This is why you are better able to learn forefoot striking when you run barefoot. Not to mention, the physical changes of the feet associated with barefoot running will prevent the foot from over-pronating, and so you will never need motion control stability running shoes ever again!
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Alberto Salazar, Nikes top coach and one of THE best running coaches in history, believes even a little bit of barefoot running, 2-3 times a week at 1-2 miles, leads to BIG gains in foot strength and is needed to maintain optimal form for when you run in shoes. Basically, barefoot running helps you run better in shoes!

Last but NOT least, the best distance runners in the world are from East Africa and all (including Eluid Kipchoge, Tirunesh Dibaba and Haile Gebressalsie) ran barefoot during childhood through adolescents and continue to run barefoot as part of their training! This is why these runners look and are more efficient than runners who grew up wearing shoes!

Learn Forefoot Running
We’ve seen the power of barefoot running play out on the world stage. Haile Gebressalsie, the most decorated distance runner in history, grew up running barefoot, like most East African professional runners. Because of his extensive barefoot running experience, he upheld the barefoot running mechanics when he ran in shoes and his feet were sufficiently stronger and tolerant of higher levels of training, all of which played a huge role in his impressive career!

STEP 3. Minimalist Shoes

When you’re not running barefoot, you can rely on shoes that make you feel like you’re barefoot in order to manage your forefoot strike and keep your feet functionally strong. These shoes are called minimalist shoes and are made exclusively to meet and improve the functional needs of the feet while the paper-thin outsole delivers similar sensory-levels or ground-feel to being barefoot.

Learn the Forefoot Running Technique
Minimalist shoes are an excellent barefoot alternative because they’re built on a low-slung design, offering an intimate connection to the ground, making it easier for your forefoot strike to connect to the ground during running!

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To give you a better idea about the importance of minimalist footwear and the most recommended minimalist shoes, check out my reviews on Barefoot Shoes for Forefoot Running.

Also, here is all the research showing that cushioned running shoes are hindrance rather than helpful in injury prevention.

STEP 4. Optimizing Your Forefoot Running Form!

The forefoot strike is not the only mechanical action in play when it comes to avoiding injury and running most efficiently! Here are other mechanical outputs you need to implement when you’re forefoot running that are study-proven to optimize running economy and injury prevention:

Here are the things you don’t want to do when forefoot running:

If you want more advice on proper forefoot running technique, you can send me a video/photos of your gait for me to analyze.

STEP 5. No Stretching!

If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, you’ll love my YouTube Channel: here, where I discuss the health and performance benefits of barefoot running and I also have tons of video reviews of minimalist/barefoot-inspired running shoes suitable for forefoot running!

If you’d like, you can support Run Forefoot and help keep it going by making a donation in any amount of your choosing:

Or, you can support Run Forefoot by shopping at the BEST Barefoot Shoe Brands, and be sure to bookmark these links 🙂

Lonowear: https://lonowear.com/?ref=cedsholh

Saguaro: https://www.saguaro.com/?ref=9bVA8fEkmDvB-I

Vibram FiveFingers: https://amzn.to/3VQLAUI

Vivobarefoot: https://amzn.to/3vycQOY

Be Lenka: https://www.tkqlhce.com/click-7600968-13947200

Xero Shoes: https://xeroshoes.com/go/Run_Forefoot

Iguaneye: https://www.iguaneye.com/?ref=8tfXVc92

Soft Star Shoes: https://shrsl.com/3mp1b

Wilding Shoes: https://bit.ly/3lIygQP


Lieberman D. E., Venkadesan M., Werbel W. A., Daoud A. I., D’Andrea S., Davis I. S., et al. (2010). Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature 463, 531–535. 10.1038/nature08723

Perkins et al. The risks and benefits of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes: a systematic review. Sports Health, 2014; 6(6):475.480.

Perl D. P., Daoud A. I., Lieberman D. E. (2012). Effects of footwear and strike type on running economy. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc 44, 1335–1343. 10.1249/mss.0b013e318247989e

Zhou H., Ugbolue U. C. (2019). Is there a relationship between strike pattern and injury during running: a review. Phys. Activity Health 3, 127–134. 10.5334/paah.45

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

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