Metatarsal Stress Fracture From Forefoot Running – Weak Feet or Jogging too Slow?

Most of us have weak feet which poses a vexing problem –i.e. metatarsal stress fracture– when transitioning to barefoot running or from shod heel strike running to minimalist shod forefoot running.

However, forefoot running at faster running velocities quickly disperses plantar pressure as compared with jogging, suggesting that forefoot running at speeds beyond your comfort zone would be enough to keep you free of metatarsal stress fracture.

Why Forefoot Running Fast is Better than Jogging
Contrary to popular belief, running fast on the forefoot reduces bone stress injuries.

Fourchet et al. 2012 published data showing that faster running velocities reduced plantar pressure in the medial and central forefoot.

The researchers compared the effects of jogging and fast running on plantar load distribution in highly trained runners.

  • The researchers measured the relative loads on the foot for both running conditions and found that the MTP joint (just below the big toe) as well as the second metatarsal head had the highest relative loads during jogging as compared with running fast.

It seems probable that jogging on the forefoot overloads the metatarsals via prolonged foot-ground interactions, and thus subsequent increases in mileage at slower paces could result in metatarsal stress fracture (Fourchet et al. 2011; Niemeyer et al. 2004). But if you feel the need to jog, consider jogging on grass to prevent increases in forefoot plantar pressure (Tessutti et al. 2010).

Nevertheless, these additional findings further corroborated the running speed-injury theory’s assumption that injury persistence stems from running way too slow.

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Fourchet et al. Comparison of plantar pressure distribution in adolescent runners at low vs high running velocity. Gait & Posture, 2012, 35, 685-687.

Fourchet et al. Foot/ankle injuries and maturation in young track and field athletes. Int J Athl Ther Train, 2011;16(19):19-23.

Niemeyer et al. Stress fractures in competitive athletes with open physis. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc, 2006;14:771-7.

Tessutti et al. In-shoe plantar pressure distribution during running on natural grass and asphalt in recreational runners. J Sci Sports Med, 2010; 13:151-5.

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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