2 Factors that Cause Exercise Induced Compartment Syndrome
Landing with a heel strike when running (shown below) is an underlying mechanism that increases anterior compartment pressures of the lower leg when using a heel strike running style.
At initial heel contact, there is greater activation of the dorsiflexors which contributes to the rise in anterior compartment pressure at each step
Moreover, in heel running, greater anterior- posterior braking forces and vertical ground reaction forces are higher at touchdown compared to forefoot running. The braking and ground reaction forces exacerbate the rise in compartment pressure of the lower leg during heel running.
Ultimately, higher plantarflexion (i.e. less dorsiflexion) at touchdown in forefoot running provides the most solace for the lower leg. Because humans did not evolve to heel strike during running, the high compartment pressure responses are generally lifelong if the runner continues to heel strike.
More on the Benefits of Forefoot Running:
Divert C, Mornieux G, Baur H, Mayer F, Belli A. Mechanical comparison of barefoot and shod running. Int J Sports Med. 2005;26(7):593-598.
Gershuni DH, Yaru NC, Hargens AR, et al. Ankle and knee position as a factor modifying intracompartmental pressure in the human leg. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1984;66(9):1415-1420.
Kirby RL, McDermott AG. Anterior tibial compartment pressures during running with rearfoot and forefoot landing styles. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1983;64:296-299.
Zifchock RA, Davis I, Hamill J. Kinetic asymmetry in female runners with and without retrospective tibial stress fractures. J Biomech. 2006;39(15):2792-2797.
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.
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