Low Impact in Forefoot Running Means Less Money on Footwear

Depending on the shoe, low impact in forefoot running allows more mileage from a shoe. However, high impact of heel strike running destroys the material of a shoe much quicker.


In forefoot running, the ground reaction force is 2.5 times less than the ground reaction force of heel strike running. Forefoot runners footwear take less of a beating.

And, even if the cushioning characteristics of a running shoe breaks down during forefoot running, impact is not greater since forefoot strike mechanics naturally minimizes loading conditions. This is why habitual barefoot runners, who are forefoot strikers, manage to run without injury.

Heel Striking Destroys Shoes, Exposing Body to Greater Shock

High impact from heel strike running destroys shoes faster than forefoot runningPast reports have found that ‘heel striking’ running shoes lose 7.3% of their vertical average force after 420-km.

To compensate for the deterioration of the cushioned material under the heel, the musculoskeletal system absorbs more shock that is highly relevant for repetitive impacts and overuse injuries.

For a heel striker, 420-km means time for a new pair of shoes before the injuries set in. The less protection under the heel, the greater the peak force at heel contact which moves rapidly through the body. And, the more you weigh, the greater the peak force and loading on the shoe cushioning.

If you switch to forefoot running and run in zero-drop, pure minimalist footwear, you will no longer need to worry about the effects of deterioration of shoe cushioning on your health.

Pure minimalist and barefoot runners do not rely on external shock-support because of their forefoot strike which has safer mechanical characteristics with less sheer force that does not destroy the integrity of a shoe compared to heel striking.
Less impact from forefoot running prevent shoes from breaking down

Moreover, running barefoot or in barefoot-inspired footwear enables the body’s natural ability to adjust kinematics according to surface hardness. You learn very quickly to make your foot strike softer on your own without the help of shoe cushioning.

The Take Home Message

The fundamental point is heel strikers need shoes for protection, forefoot strikers don’t. Why put your health in the hands of athletic footwear when we have our own cushioning properties built-in us thanks to evolution.

More on why you shouldn’t be heel striking when running:


Cavanagh, PR and Lafortune, MA. (1980). Ground reaction forces in distance running. J Biomech,13(5):397-406.

Wang et al. (2010). Changes in heel cushioning characteristics of running shoes with running mileage. Footwear Sci,2(3):141-47.

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!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.