Why Run Forefoot

Here are the top reasons why I firmly believe all runners should run forefoot, not rearfoot:

1. The injury rate among runners remains high despite innovations in shoe technology and grounded beliefs on biomechanics.

2. Most Ethiopian elite runners are forefoot strikers and ran barefoot for many years prior to elite status; whereas most joggers are heel strikers and are shod runners.

Most elite runners run forefoot
Many Ethiopian runners, like Tirunesh Dibaba, ran barefoot and run forefoot.

3. Although performance capacity is multi-factorial, statistically, elite runners who forefoot strike generally out-perform elite runners who heel strike and many current world records across all distances are held mostly by forefoot strikers, not heel strikers.

4. Heel striking produces a distinct impact transient that is absent in a forefoot strike. Statistically, most joggers heel strike and running-related injuries are greater among these runners compared with habitually barefoot runners who mostly forefoot strike. The finding strengthens the linkage between heel striking and injury.

5. My experience with being an injured heel striker to a now injury-free forefoot striker and similar reports have been made in barefoot runners who transitioned away from shod-heel striking.

Run forefoot to prevent injury
After using graded barefoot running to transition from shod-heel striking to minimalist forefoot striking, my body aches and pains disappeared. I don’t stretch anymore and I don’t get massages because my muscles are never tight, or sore. Natural.

Other components of forefoot running that interests me include:

  • understanding the relationship between the impact transient/body interaction with respect to heel strike running.
  • exploring the effects of athletic footwear on perceptual awareness and impact-moderating behavior in long distance runners.
  • examining and comparing the biomechanics of Ethiopian elite distance runners, such as Tirunesh Dibaba, and habitually barefoot runners to conventional beliefs on biomechanics and shod-running populations.
  • the potential role of the central pattern generators of the spinal cord in controlling movements reflexively to reduce impact in barefoot runners.

In brief, I examine and summarize the research on foot strike mechanics in running to find better answers as to how we should be running and why, with a forefoot strike, or a heel strike?

A deeper understanding on the importance of proper foot strike in running could benefit everyone and may abolish the false premise that running is a high-impact, high-injurious activity.

More From Run Forefoot:


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

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