How to Run Properly? Forefoot Strike and Lean Forward!

The biggest question in running is how to run properly?

Good news is the science is settled that the safest, most efficient way to run is to avoid landing heel-first, and instead land with a forefoot strike! This is because forefoot running does a significantly better job at helping you avoid damaging impact burdens altogether. An additional mechanical factor that also helps keep impact low and energy efficiency high, especially at faster running speeds, is to lean slightly forward.

Research in the journal Biomechanics found that faster, more economical runners had one consistent common denomination: they all maintained a forward lean.

The researchers found that forward learning during running drew in the landing foot to land closer to the center of mass (upper body) which in turn allowed the center of mass to move farther ahead more quickly as compared with an upright body posture which produced a longer brake force duration period and was more straining on the knee. What is more, the researchers found that forward leaning during running not only effectively shaved down the brake force, but also reduced propulsion forces which resulted in less mechanical work and muscle power to thrust the body forward. This also expended less metabolic energy.

Maximizing Your Forefoot Running Form: Lean Forward
Leaning forward during running seems to be the grease that keeps you going smoother and more economically. Leaning slightly forward when running was found to be a big part in bringing initial foot strike position closer to the body and moves the center of mass (upper body) farther forward before toe-off occurs. This  causes the muscles to perform less mechanical work during the propulsive phase and expends less metabolic energy, especially at faster running velocities.

These findings add new weight to the growing idea that to improve your running economy while maximizing the benefit of running with a forefoot strike, leaning slightly forward has a strong positive effect on producing smoother, safer strides with reduced energy costs. However, a forefoot strike during running is only very effective if used properly! Here’s a video showing a proper forefoot strike and the functional relevance as this movement path of the foot. 


Krugler F and Janshen L. Body position determines propulsive forces in accelerated running. J Biomech, 2010;43:343-348.

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.

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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!