Stability Motion-Control Running Shoes Fail to Reduce Impact in Heel Runners

Heel strike runners have no specific way to reduce the harmful impact at heel strike — this specific form of impact is called the impact-transient and is not observed in a forefoot strike landingStability motion-control running shoes are commonly used to try and protect heel strike runners from this impact and other impact variables, such as tibial accelerations and shock, but fails to do so.

For example, a study by Butler at el. 2006 reported that motion control running shoes did not reduce tibial acceleration and tibial shock in heel strike runners.

Stability Motion-Control Running Shoes Fail to Reduce Impact in Heel Runners
Recent findings suggest that wearing motion control running shoes are not the best preventive practices for reducing running injury.

Stability Motion-Control Running Shoes Fail to Reduce Impact in Heel Runners

High tibial acceleration and shock during running is a leading cause of tibial stress fractures which is uncommon in barefoot populations.

So what is the purpose of stability motion-control running shoes if they cannot reduce damaging impacts during running?

Clearly, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

Motion control running shoes are suppose to correct abnormal movement patterns of the foot, particular the rearfoot during running, thereby improving movement efficiency to reduce the risk of injury. Yet, the study found that motion control running shoes had no effect on the high impact variables associated with heel strike running regardless of arch type.

Forefoot Running Reduces Rearfoot Motion and Tibial Acceleration

The fact that the feet spend less time on the ground in forefoot running tips the balance in favor of the benefits of forefoot running over wearing motion control running shoes to correct movement impairments of the foot.

Running with a Forefoot Strike

Running with a Forefoot Strike Style

The quick ground-contact in forefoot running minimizes excessive pronation or rearfoot motion because the heel essentially kisses the ground and is quickly removed.

As for tibial acceleration, forefoot running reduces anterior compartment pressure of the lower leg by decreasing ground reaction forces, stride length and ground contact time. Because maximum leg extension is abolished in forefoot running, the eccentric activity of the tibialis anterior is reduced.

More on Running Shoes and Forefoot Running:

Best Shoes for Forefoot Running

Orthotics and Forefoot Running

How Barefoot-Running Shoes Improves Performance

Why You Should Be Running Faster


Butler, RJ., Davis, IS and Hamill, J. Interaction of arch type and footwear on running mechanics. Amer J Sports Med, 2006;34(12):1998-2005.

Diebal et al. Effect of forefoot running on chronic exertional compartment syndrome: a case series. Int J Sports Phys Ther, 2011; 6(4):312-21

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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