Does Forefoot Running Prevent Injury?

More and more research is giving us a higher degree of certainty that forefoot running may be better for injury prevention than heel strike running.

For instance, science tells us that by impact standards, forefoot running is a direct facilitator of allocating additional mechanical outputs that serve as a constant source of impact protection on the body. This is why forefoot running is consistently associated with being better for the prevention of impact-related and repetitive strain injuries as compared with heel strike running.

In fact, here is a list of the injuries common in heel strike running, but are greatly improved, if not fully resolved with forefoot running:

Patellofemoral Joint Stress

Forefoot running has been repeatedly found to correlate the best with significant reductions in the patellofemoral kinetics that cause patellofemoral pain as compared with heel strike running. More on this here!

Hip Pain

Forefoot running was found to engage key stride parameters and improve the upper body’s postural trajectory at touchdown all of which led to significant reductions in loading and impact on the hips. More on this here!

Anterior Shin Splints

Forefoot running, especially at faster running speeds, may reduce the risk of shin splints by preventing over-engaging muscle activity in the shins as compared with heel strike running. Read more here!

Tibial (Shin) Shock

In keeping with unburdening the shins, forefoot running may also reduce the risk of shin fracture as forefoot running was found to have the direct effect of improving the positioning of the tibia (shin) at touchdown which dramatically reduced opposing forces on the tibia. Read more here!

Runners Knee

Forefoot running may make you less prone to runners knee because it was found to put in motion other mechanical actions that had a pronounced effect of preventing overloads to the knee as compared with heel strike running. Read more here!

Medial Calf Pain

At touchdown in forefoot running, the calf muscle doesn’t forcibly stretch in the way that it does at touchdown in heel strike running. This is one reason the calves may endure less strain and injury proneness in forefoot running. Read more here!

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

In forefoot running, there’s less burst of high impact which in turn may prevent compartment pressure in the lower leg from rising to pain-inducing, nerve-compressing levels as compared with heel strike running. Read more here!

The biggest takeaway is that forefoot running is beginning to build an impressive record of success in resolving and preventing many injuries in a way that maintains long-term, and from this, forefoot running may
help you adapt quickly and safely to harder training which may profoundly improve your performance.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you’ll love my content over at my YouTube channel, here, where I go into more detail about the evidenced-based facts on the performance and injury preventative advantages of forefoot running vs heel strike running.

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!