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