Of course minimalist running (running in barefoot style running shoes) is better than shod running (running in cushioned running shoes), however you cannot heel strike and over-stride in minimalist running shoes because doing so increases loading by 35% as compared with heel striking in thick cushioned running shoes.
Minimalist Running is Good BUT….
A paper by Gaudette (2014) made some interesting points about minimalist running: minimalist running shoes can only prevent injury and improve performance if you land on your forefoot, but the foot must strike the ground under your center mass –this is the recipe for low-impact running, and therefore less injury.
But, how do you get your foot to land under your center mass?
According to Gaudette, the answer is better hip extension (how much the leg and thigh travels behind the body) as well as higher cadence (step rate).
- Gaudette emphasizes that improving your hip extension via strength and flexibility training, will help you develop a more rearward leg swing (higher back-kick), thereby reducing the amount of over-striding during running.
- To increase cadence during forefoot running, a runner must pay close attention to how quickly their feet interacts with the ground and by strengthening the hip flexors, glutes and improving hip flexibility (Gaudette, 2014).
To reap greater health benefits of minimalist running, improving proprioception is vital, but Gaudette stresses that you must feel your foot landing under you while you run that is the key. In this way, you will recover faster because the prolonged stress of running will be minimal as there will be less exposure to a variety of intense stressors.
More From Run Forefoot:
Higher Cadence – Increasing your step rate during running reduces stress damage and boosts performance.
Pose Running – Tips from the experts at Pose Running on how to run properly.
Don’t Let Your Form Breakdown When Tired – Tips on maintaining your forefoot strike when you’re running on empty.
Footwear – Best shoes for minimalist running.
Gaudette, J. Three common misconceptions about minimalist running footwear and running form. AMAA J Fall, 2014; 27(3):10-12
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.