For heel strikers transitioning to forefoot strike running, adopting a midfoot strike first, may be a great way to ease into forefoot running without overloading the Achilles tendon.
The common injury pattern in forefoot strike learners who were heel strikers, are Achilles tendinopathy and calf pain because forefoot running may place greater demands on the Achilles. But due to insufficient data, it remains unclear if the increase in Achilles load in forefoot running learners is linked to Achilles tendon injury.
Transitioning abruptly from heel strike to forefoot strike running without proper instruction my cost an Achilles injury that could be avoided by adopting a midfoot strike landing pattern.
When in Doubt, Aim for a Flatter Foot Placement
A forefoot strike as well as a midfoot strike landing involves a much flatter foot placement than heel striking.
In heel strike running, the forefoot pulls back to allow direct contact on the ground with the heel.
The posterior region of the foot (i.e. the heel) is a poor catalyst for shock dissipation. Because the surface area is much smaller, the heel fails to absorb the peak impact at heel strike and transmits in the form of a shock wave up the leg, into the back and head (below left)
The Take Home Message
To reduce braking and generating peak impact, aim for a flatter foot placement when running and make sure to avoid initial ground contact on the heel. Initial ground contact on the foot needs to occur away from the heel -this part is fundamental and vital to running safely.
More From Run Forefoot:
- Meb Keflezighi Wins Boston Marathon and Ditching the Heel Strike Helped Him Do It
- Tirunesh Dibaba Running Technique
- Ethiopians Not Genetically Gifted for Running. They Train Harder and Don’t Heel Strike
- Heel Strikers Not Winning Olympic Gold Medals
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.