Why Ethiopian Runners Run Better

Most Ethiopian runners run with better form than most recreational runners mainly because Ethiopian runners typically run on their forefoot, whereas most joggers run with a heel strike.

Ethiopian Runners
Most Ethiopian runners spent much of their youth running without shoes, which accounts for their forefoot running style.

Heel striking and forefoot striking are foot strikes of complete, polar opposite biomechanically, kinematically, and with respects to force production. Taken in itself, heel strike running is harder on the body because it generates more impact, joint compression, and braking forces as compared with forefoot running.

Click here to learn more on the dangers of heel striking when running.

Why Most Ethiopian Runners Forefoot Strike and Most of Us Heel Strike

As children, and even in adulthood, many Ethiopian runners run barefoot whereby landing on the forefoot, rather than on the heel, is more comfortable when running without shoes.

From an early age however, recreational runners wear cushioned running shoes and according to Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a professor at Harvard University who studies barefoot runners, the raised heel of a running shoe holds the foot in a position that increases heel strike potential when running.

Over-time, the heel strike running style becomes automated –like a habit– and is considered a deviation from the natural foot strike pattern of which many experts believe is a forefoot strike landing.

Click here to learn more about the evolution of human running and why selective pressures said YES to forefoot running.


More on Why  Runner’s Shouldn’t Heel Strike:

Achilles Tendon Soreness – Find out how heel strike running increases stress causing injury to the body’s strongest tendon.

Sore Back – 2 ways running with a heel strike causes lower back pain.

Why Heel Strikers are Prone to Injury – Learn how the stress-wave generated at heel strike is too hard on the body.

Bad Pronation – Understand the differences in pronation between a heel strike and forefoot strike landing and how heel strike evoked pronation is worse.

Highly Reviewed Barefoot-Like Running Shoes for Forefoot Running:

Men’s Vibram Bikila LS

Men’s Merrell Vapor Glove 2

Women’s Vibram Seeya LS

Women’s Vibram Bikila Evo Road Running Shoe

Run Forefoot, You are Faster than You Think!

Backcountr 2016 Winter Showcase

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!

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