Why Heel Runners with High Arches Should Switch to Forefoot Running

Ogon et al. (1999) found that heel strike runners with high arches had greater mediolateral plane instability at heel strike and were more likely to have rapid internal rotations of the tibia shortly after heel strike.

This increased tibial internal rotation is linked to runner’s knee and anterior shin pain, which may be a reason tibial stress fractures are more common in high arched runners, who heel strike ( Simkin et al.; Kim et al.).

The researchers also found that heel strike runners with high arches had a higher medial force component at heel strike as compared with heel strike runners with low arches. In forefoot running however, arch height is not a risk factor for injury.

Forefoot Running Reduces Tibial Stress on Heel Strikers with High Arches
High arches are a greater risk factor for knee and shin pain in heel strike running than in forefoot running.

Why Heel Runners with High Arches Should Switch to Forefoot Running

Because the arch loads differently in forefoot running, the arch, of any height, has a greater capacity to intrinsically absorb impact as compared with heel strike running. Also, the initial pronation component in forefoot running has not yet been found to produce or increase medial forces on the shin. Below shoes a video of a proper forefoot strike:

 

Nevertheless, most research indicates that heel strike running, arch height and lower extremity injuries are interrelated. Therefore, it might be possible for a heel strike runner with high arches to have better luck with injury prevention by switching to forefoot running.

More From Run Forefoot:

Barefoot Running

Heel Strike and Forefoot Strike Biomechanics

Achilles Tendon Injury and Prevention

Best Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

Ankle Injury


References:

Kim, W., Voloshin, A.S., Johnson, S.H., and Simkin, A.: Measurement of impulse bone motion by skin-mounted accelerometers. J. Biomech. Eng., 115:47-52, 1993.

Ogon et al. Does arch height affect impact loading at the lower back level in running. Amer Orthoped Foot Ankle Soc, 1999; 20(4):263-266.

Simkin, A., Leichter, I., Giladi, M., Stein, M., and Milgrom, C.Combined effect of foot arch structure and an orthotic device on stress fractures. Foot Ankle, 10:25-9, 1989.

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!

6 Comments

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