Learning Forefoot Striking Requires Patience, Especially for Heel Strikers

If you have a running technique that is similar to the forefoot striking technique, than learning forefoot striking may come easy and without a doubt, immediate improvements in running economy will result, providing that the forefoot striking technique is learned correctly.


What about heel strike runners interested in learning forefoot striking?

Heel Strikers Learning Forefoot Striking
Some heel strikers may require more time to learn forefoot striking because heel striking and forefoot striking are two polar opposite running styles.

Depending on your learning curve, fitness level, running experience, etc. the forefoot striking technique may take some time to get use to. Why?

Immediate effects of any alteration of your preferred running technique on running economy will be negative, in the beginning.

Patience is the key because manipulating away from your preferred biomechanics when running increases oxygen consumption until you become familiar with the new running style.

Realistically, positive effects on running economy with the forefoot striking technique is a result of deliberate technique training and repetition. You are telling your body to move in an entirely different way than it’s use too.

Ultimately, the enforcement of specific biomechanical adaptations requires lots of energy until it becomes learned and habituated. This is why studies that have investigated the effects of manipulating running technique, from a heel strike to forefoot strike, on running economy has generated inconsistent results.

Instructing someone to run differently will be energetically taxing at first.

Learning Forefoot Striking
Once you have learned forefoot striking, you will appreciate how easy it is on the body

Despite that forefoot striking is more economical over heel striking, manipulating preferred running technique to a new running condition always requires more internal work until it becomes hardwired in the neuromuscular system.

The Take Home Message

In theory, learning forefoot striking should be simple since humans are evolutionarily programmed to run forefoot via adaptations to barefoot conditions. You have it in you to learn.

This post is a reminder to not give up on forefoot striking. Learning something new takes time and manipulating global biomechanics to that of forefoot striking will certainly not happen overnight. Be patient and stick with it.


More About Forefoot Striking:


Halvorsen K., Eriksson, M and Gullstrand, L. Acute effects of reducing vertical displacement and step frequency on running economy. J Strength Cond Res, 2012; 26(8): 2065-70.

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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