Posted on 5 Sep 2018

Foot Strike in Running

Foot Strike Types

As anyone that’s been on a FitFarms course will know I like a good stretch and often focus on an area generally neglected -feet; as I’ve also been on a bit of a running kick I decided to combine the two and discuss foot strike in running. I mentioned a while back about how running technique varies from person to person and foot strike essentially is a part of an individuals technique.

When we talk about foot strike there are three types - rear foot, midfoot and forefoot. Each is pretty much as they sound, rear foot is where the foot strikes the ground with the heel or rear third of the foot, mid where the metatarsal heads or middle third of the foot strike first and fore where again the metatarsal heads strike first but where the heel does not lower to the ground (with that said there are a few different methods for deciding foot strike including one that suggests ankle position should be considered as well, but for simplicity consider the foot in thirds!).

It has been believed that forefoot strike is the more natural way to strike, and when I say natural I mean how you would strike if unshod, however the majority of people seem to rear foot strike; this has been assumed due to the creation of footwear however studies have shown from barefoot runners in Africa a majority also rear foot strike.

Some people have changed how they strike through practice believing it less injurious to fore or mid foot strike despite it being noted that there is little research wise to show any benefit long term (though I think it’s partly that there’s little research on the matter full stop). Forefoot running is shown to lower the impact and ground reaction force (the force return, if you like) compared to rear foot and it is demonstrated that top rank participants at different distance events were often fore or mid foot strikers; it has been suggested that foot strike may be specific to the task, with fore foot strike apt for increased speed and rear foot better for conserving energy with reduced oxygen uptake by running at submaximal speed, though as you can probably glean from the theme running through, this also is not definitive!

Health and Fitness exercise tip by the FitFarms team. FitFarms specialises in Fitness and Weight Loss Holidays for people of all different fitness levels, shapes and sizes. Check out our next courses here.

Foot strike image source by Ronnie Station

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