How Pose Running Helped my Forefoot Running Technique

Pose Running provided me with new directives and guidelines that taught me exactly what I had to do with my feet when forefoot running, and that is, to do nothing with the feet! What do I mean by that? Stop pushing and start pulling.

Pose Running
Pose Running focuses more on pulling your foot up rather than using your foot to push your body forward when running.

How Pose Running Helped my Forefoot Running Technique

My footwork while learning forefoot running was the most challenging for me because I had a habit of pushing off the ground with my forefoot. I was pushing because I was a heel striker and heel strikers use their toes and forefoot to launch their body weight forward against the force of gravity to initiate flight.

Pose Running
In most cases, heel strikers run upright with their upper body posture, thus they barely lean forward. This is why they often use their foot, especially their forefoot and toes for forward propulsion.

Pushing for propulsion requires high mechanical effort of the lower leg to push the body through the external force of gravity.

Before I read Pose Running, I worked arduously to avoid injury while forefoot running, but my aggressive foot strike behavior prevented me from doing so.

My feet were always sore because of the high bending moments endured by my metatarsals from pushing. I also suffered an Achilles injury and was constantly battling shin splints.

However, these ailments became a thing of the past when I learned to not push, but to pull my foot up while running forefoot.

Stop Thinking About Your Feet. Focus on Your Leg Only

Pose Running taught me to use my hamstrings, not my feet, to pull the foot up from the ground. In doing so, you must remove the conscious effort from the foot and direct your focus to your entire leg. That is, you want to completely forget about what your foot is doing and engage your mind with your leg.

Learn to perceive your leg as a muscle force that pulls the foot from the ground instead of perceiving the foot as a propulsion tool.

In proper forefoot running, the foot does not remove itself from the ground via pushing; this is demonstrated by Ethiopian distance runners who have perfected the forefoot running technique because they ran barefoot during their youth.

The ‘pulling of the foot’ tip by Pose Running gave me the means to become more efficient with my feet. But to solidify my understanding, I needed to see exactly what ‘pulling’ looked like in the context of racing.

Tirunesh Dibaba: The Perfect Forefoot Strike Reference Point

Inspired by the example set by Tirunesh Dibaba, the concept of pulling became most comprehensive as she shows the correct mechanism of pulling, not pushing, for momentum.

If Dibaba was pushing with her foot, her stride would be more rigid and not as smooth as it is. Another way you can tell Dibaba is not pushing is by looking at the lack of muscular strain in her ankle and calf musculature.

The traveling system is her forward position of center of mass due to a slight forward body tilt and her foot slips out from under the traveling system. Also notice Dibaba’s knees never straighten, they remain bent which helps the foot land on the forefoot ( it’s kind of hard to heel strike when your knee is bent upon and at touchdown)

Pose Running
Relax your feet and stop thinking about them when forefoot running! Direct your attention to relaxing your feet and stop forcing the movements. The leg-spring picks the foot up from the ground when your center of mass if kept forward.

Think of the foot as slipping out from under your center of mass and swinging out behind the body.

Most of learning proper forefoot running is all in the mind and the perception of how the body is interacting with the ground.

When you learn to disengage your focus from your foot and stop pushing, and learn to pull with your leg, you are now ready to fulfill your potential as a forefoot runner, highly efficient and injury free.

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References:

Romanov, N and Fletcher, G. Runners do not push-off the ground but fall forwards via a gravitational torque. Sport Biomech, 2007; 6(3):434-452.

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

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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