When learning forefoot running, the worst thing you can do is intentionally run at a slower pace in attempt to avoid injury.
One of the best strategies to develop a consistent forefoot strike pattern is with speed workouts.
Use Speed Workouts to Avoid Heel Strike
Mounting evidence suggests that foot strike depends on speed whereby heel striking is strongly associated with slower running speeds and forefoot striking is strongly associated with faster running speeds.
In a 2015 study, Staurts et al. were surprised to find that most of the shod heel strike-runners who switched to barefoot running maintained a heel strike landing. However, the researchers observed that the shod runners initially ran significantly slower when adapting to barefoot running, which may explain the failure to switch from heel strike to forefoot strike.
Why Running Fast Equals Better Foot Strike Mechanics
Running faster allows for natural motor sequences to take place. This is because the faster you run during speed workouts, the faster the landing velocity of the foot and the smaller the foot strike angle –a smaller foot strike angle means the ankle is plantar flexed at touchdown, a perfect setup for a forefoot strike.
And, if you really want to improve your forefoot strike, than do speed workouts barefoot because the combination of high proprioception and faster running velocities makes you better-equipped to avoid heel strike.
More From Run Forefoot:
Hatala, K. G., Dingwall, H. L., Wunderlich, R. E., & Richmond, B. G. (2013). Variation in foot strike patterns during running among habitually barefoot populations. Plos One, 8(1).
Lieberman, D. E., Venkadesan, M., Werbel, W. A., Daoud, A. I., D ’ Andrea, S., Davis, I. S., & Pitsiladis, Y. (2010). Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature, 463(7280), 531 – 535.
Strauts S., Vanicek, N and Halaki, M. Acute changes in kinematic and muscle activity patterns in habitually shod heel strikers while running barefoot. J Sports Sci, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2015.1034756
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.
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