The foot strike we use when we run affects Achilles tendon function, which affects performance.
Forefoot running is framed as a potential gain for performance due to a more elastic engagement of the Achilles tendon. Moreover, optimal Achilles tendon elastic recoiling is rooted in the alignment of the body at touchdown during forefoot running.
- Forefoot running provides a smaller distance between the center of mass and foot strike position, creating a mass-on-a-spring effect which allows considerable elastic consolidation to occur, especially when the heel lowers to the ground to initiate stance.
Also, pre-activation of the calf musculature prior to touchdown stretches the Achilles tendon, which increases the capacity for elastic energy storage in forefoot running as compared with heel strike running (Roberts, 2002; Alexander, 2002).
Nevertheless, the findings suggest that the Achilles tendon is needed for efficient running which can only arise if a forefoot strike is utilized.
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Alexander RM. Tendon elasticity and muscle function. Comp Biochem Phsiol Part A, 2002; 133; 1001-1011.
Sellers et al. Evolutionary robotic approaches in primate gait analysis. Int J Primatol, 2010; 31:321-338.
Wilson SW and Watson JS. A catapult action for rapid limb protraction. Nature, 2003; 421, 35-36.
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.