Positioning your eye gaze down at the ground when running prepares the leg for a better, safer landing as compared with looking straight ahead.
Visual feedback is important to running, especially when it comes to leg kinematics before touchdown. Looking where you are stepping while you run programs your body to execute the right movement.
Using Your Eye Gaze to Run More Efficiently
A study by Muller et al. found that when runners ran on uneven surfaces while visually scanning the ground, the visual feedback led to a decrease in muscle activation in the anterior tibialis.
- A decrease in muscle activation in the anterior tibialis means that the shins were more relaxed.
- Flight time also increased, meaning less ground contact time.
The researchers concluded that the changes in muscle activation in the lower leg was driven purely by the feed-forward system which relies heavily on visual feedback. That is, seeing where you are stepping provides the brain with a somewhat subliminal cue to prepare the leg for a safer, more stable contact.
Many runners stare straight ahead, away from the ground when running whereby the lack of visual feedback from the ground prevents unconsciously activating important reflexes for a more stable landing, especially over uneven terrain.
When runners avoid looking at the ground, they are less reactive to proper footfalls and are less apt to avoid ankle injuries and other forms of muscular strain of the leg. These individuals may also become more preoccupied, or distracted with their surroundings and display less of a tendency to run with optimal balance control and softer landing strategies.
More From Run Forefoot:
How long is the transition period from cushioned to minimalist shod running?
Certain running shoes can interfere with your forefoot strike, even if you are pro!
7+ benefits of minimalist running shoes.
Too tired to run in the morning? You wont if you spike your water with these!
Recap on what a proper forefoot strike looks like.
Muller R., Haufle DF and Blickhan, R. Preparing the leg for ground contact in running: the contributions of the feedforward and visual feedback. J Exp Biol, 2015; 218(2).
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.
Latest posts by Bretta Riches (see all)
- Altra Escalante Review for Forefoot Running - 25/05/2018
- Vibram Five Fingers KSO EVO Review for Forefoot Running - 30/03/2018
- Proper Running Posture: Upright Trunk Vs Leaning Forward - 25/03/2018