What Improves Speed? Barefoot Running with a Forefoot Strike

What improves speed in running? Barefoot running was shown to improve speed via the adoption of a forefoot strike in habitually shod heel strike runners instructed to run barefoot for the first time.

What improves speed in running? Running barefoot with a forefoot strikeA study by Baroody investigated the influence of a 10-week barefoot training program on running economy and found that:

  • barefoot running improved running economy, as less oxygen was used to fuel muscles
  • barefoot running led to better force distribution and better utilization of the arch of the foot and Achilles tendon
  • subjects had faster two-mile and three-mile run times after barefoot training and while running barefoot
  • barefoot running led to faster running times because foot and lower limb mechanics improved

Interestingly, other work has shown that runners running barefooted, or in minimalist footwear, showed no difference in running economy. Perhaps, like running barefoot, running in minimalist footwear, encourages a forefoot strike due to the lack of padding and cushioned elevated heel.

Therefore, barefoot running and minimalist running, is moving closer to becoming a mainstream training strategy for competitive runners and for heel strikers wanting to transition to forefoot running.

Tips on How to Learn Forefoot Running:

Run forefoot, you are faster than you think!


Baroody, N. (2013). The effect of a barefoot training program on running economy and performance. Undergraduate Research Journal. University of New Hampshire.

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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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!

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