Heel pain due to running is actually due to running in the wrong shoe. A new study confirms that the higher the heel elevation of a running shoe, the higher you’ll land on your heel, and the result is a less flat foot strike causing the massive force at heel strike to overwhelm the heel pad.
Heel Pain Due to Running in the Wrong Shoes
A study by Jimenez-Munoz et al (2015), investigated the effects of running barefoot vs running in shoes on foot strike. The researchers found that a higher heel strike angle was more frequent in running shoes, especially those with a higher heel height, whereas barefoot running resulted in a significantly flatter foot strike, suggesting that impact forces would be less intensified on the heel during barefoot running because a flatter foot strike at touchdown increases the surface area for force dissipation.
Their results are in line with past reports which found that 70-85% of runners who wore cushioned heeled running shoes heel strike (Hasegawa et al. 2007), and sustain numerous injuries. Their results are also consistent with other reports which have found a forefoot strike is commonly adopted when a shod runner runs barefoot (Hamill et al. 2011), suggesting that the heel pad is sensitive and a non-heel strike landing is a safer means of protecting the heel pad for degrading on hard surfaces.
If you don’t want to go barefoot when you run, you’ll love these barefoot-inspired running shoes.
More From Run Forefoot:
Hamill, J., Russell, E. M., Gruber, A. H., & Miller, R. (2011). Impact characteristics in shod and barefoot running. Footwear Science, 3, 33 – 40.
Hasegawa, H., Yamauchi, T., & Kraemer, W. J. (2007). Foot strike patterns of runners at the 15-km point during an elite-level half marathon. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 21, 888 –893
Jimenez-Munoz et al. Influence of shod/unshod condition and running speed on foot-strike patterns, inversion/eversion, and vertical foot rotation in endurance runners.J Sports Sci, 2015;33(19):2035-2042.
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.