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 landing. Stability 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
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.
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:
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
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.
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