Learn the Forefoot Running Technique

Forefoot running has gained almost universal acclaim for being a safer way to run as compared to heel strike running. More reasons to run forefoot comes from the observation that many of the best short, middle and long distance runners in the world utilize a forefoot strike landing pattern. In that spirit, if you are a heel strike runner grappling with ongoing injuries, or if you are looking to improve your performance without injury setbacks, you may want to consider forefoot running and this is how you go about learning it:

Learning the forefoot running technique is much easier than you think! Forefoot running is hardwired in us –that is, we all have the ability to run forefoot!  The major thing I enjoy the most about forefoot running is that it feels more comfortable than heel strike running. However, reprogramming ourselves to run with a forefoot strike, especially if you have been a heel strike runner for an exceptionally long time, takes time and you also need to acknowledge that YOU, not cushioned running shoes, are the best and ONLY defense against injury. This means that no matter how much cushioning is in your shoe, if you land the WRONG way, you will get injured and create more impact than the shoe cushioning can handle.  This is why learning the proper forefoot strike landing pattern is key in injury prevention.

Learn Forefoot Running

Learn the Forefoot Running Technique

STEP 1. Barefoot Before Shoes

There’s an underlying assumption that running without shoes is bad and will cost you an injury, but this default assumption is beginning to breakdown as new evidence supports the idea that barefoot running is a more nurturing environment for not only improved foot and ankle strength, but if used properly, can be tremendously effective at fine-tuning your biomechanics.

Alberto Salazar believes that a little barefoot running, 2-3 times a week at 1-2 miles, is essential to improve foot strength and maintain adequate form. Not only that, Perkins et al. published a systematic review comparing the risks and benefits of barefoot and minimalist shod running and concluded that most minimalist shoes fail to fully replicate barefoot running. The results pointed to the fact that running economy and mechanics consistently differ between barefoot and minimalist shod running.

Running Techniques
Running barefoot helps you pin-point your forefoot landing easier than if you were to learn forefoot running in running shoes.

Need more convincing about the benefits of barefoot running? Click here to learn what going barefoot can do for you

Learn Forefoot Running
Guess how Tirunesh Dibaba got her flawless forefoot running technique? By running barefoot as a young girl!

STEP 2. Proper Forefoot Footwear

Cushioned footwear is the leading cause of foot weakness and bad biomechanics. Therefore, going barefoot is the best way to repair damaged feet and helps you maintain good forefoot running mechanic in shoes.   To kick-start your forefoot running journey, you need to find the proper footwear, or go barefoot which is even better! But for those who prefer to wear shoes, you MUST wear barefoot running shoes –running shoes that closely approximate being barefoot. Get started by reviewing the following:

Beware of running shoes advertised as a “minimalist shoe”. These shoes include:

STEP 3. Things to Avoid When Running Forefoot

The best way to change your heel strike into a forefoot strike is to learn what you must NOT do when learning forefoot runnig:

Click here to learn the other DONTs of forefoot running.

STEP 4. Implementing the Proper Forefoot Mechanics

If you want more advice on proper forefoot running technique, you can send me a video/photos of your gait for me to analyze.

STEP 5. No Stretching!

Drills/Strengthening Exercises for Forefoot Running

Struggling with Injury?

I also did a video where I elaborate more on the positive aspects of forefoot running and how it relates to good running performance and enhanced injury prevention measures:

More Running Tips For You:

Heel Strike – Heel strike running is not a fun way to run. Why? Because it causes injury, leaving you on the sidelines during races.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome – Many runners suffer this dreaded injury, but many runners don’t  know why. This article covers the main cause of knee injury in runners.

Achilles Heel – Found out why heel strike running is such a daunting task for the Achilles tendon, resulting in injury to the tendon.

Eccentric Exercises – We often hear about eccentric exercises, but you can achieve them just by running barefoot; find out how.

Forefoot Shoe Review – Read my review on the FeelMax Osma 2, an under-appreciated forefoot running shoes that is a great tool to help you mechanically run your best.


Perkins et al. The risks and benefits of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes: a systematic review. Sports Health, 2014; 6(6):475.480.

Bretta Riches

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


  1. Really glad I found your site. I just started forefoot striking, a little barefoot and a little in Tesla BareTrek. After the first full “workout” of intervals, my calf muscles are so sore I can hardly walk. As I’ve probably never used them as-intended before, this is probably normal. Should I rest or keep slowly easing into more/longer barefoot running? Thanks!

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