Forefoot Running and Achilles Pain

One of the few ways forefoot running may cause Achilles pain is you may be actually toe striking, not forefoot striking, whereby toe striking means you are landing too high up on your toes without letting your heel drop down to the ground, shown below:

Forefoot Running and Shin Splints
If you land like this, high up on your toes, when you run, you are not forefoot striking, you are toe striking. This means you are landing too high up on the toes (a high strike angle), while never letting your heel drop down to the ground. This literally shreds the Achilles, and calves!

The problem with landing high up on the toes without the heel dropping down to the ground is it increases jarring forces, loading and demands on the calf musculature, while placing enormous strain on the Achilles tendon. The best way around this is to make sure you’re landing properly on your forefoot, and on your toes.

A proper forefoot strike landing is actually a MUCH lower strike angle, striking on the balls, not the toes, of the foot, then the heel is last part of the foot to contact the ground, shown below:

In a proper forefoot strike landing, the overall initial placement of the foot is much flatter,  where the initial contact point on the foot is on the balls, not the toes. This is followed by the heel lowering down to the ground. The heel must drop down to the ground to minimize work at the Achilles tendon and calves.

All in all, for some reason, toe striking gets mistaken for being forefoot running when both foot strike types are not the same.  For a better demonstration on how to land properly on your forefoot, here’s my YouTube video showing just that!

Also, here are well overt 20 reasons that forefoot running is better than heel  strike running!

Black Friday at!


Nunns et al. (2013). Biomechanical Characteristics of Barefoot Footstrike Modalities.  in J Biomech, 46: 2603-2610; 2013.

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

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!