Achilles Tendon Affords Forefoot Runner’s a Performance Advantage

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.

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).

Achilles tendon provides more energy when a forefoot strike is used during running.
Elastic energy storage in the Achilles tendon is an important phenomenon that allows the muscles to act passively in forefoot running. Because a forefoot strike enables more energy savings, power amplification and force regulation at the tendon level, the muscles are able to operate at lower contraction speeds where their efficiency is greater.

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.

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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