26 Sep Heel Striking vs Fore-Foot Striking: Running Shoe Considerations
A common question I get asked in clinic is whether fore-foot or heel/mid-foot striking is better for you for preventing overuse injuries in long distance running.
This question is not always easy to answer as there are many variables such as running experience, conditioning, range of movement limitations and terrain for example that can determine which strike pattern could be possibly better for you. There are also other very important running technique variables such as cadence which needs to be taken into consideration when looking at your overall running technique.
For this short piece I am concentrating on looking at how heel/mid-foot striking allows you to use features of certain running shoes to improve shock absorption, foot control and help decrease the risk of overuse injuries.
Striking on your heel or mid-foot with the correct stride length (not over-striding!) allows the average runner to use the features of traditional high mileage running shoes to dampen the 4-5 x your body weight being thrust back up into your feet and lower limbs while running on hard surfaces. The way these shoes do this is by having shock absorbing material built under the heel. This material is different the one used under the fore-foot which is usually a more responsive “bouncier” material to help propel the body forward.
The other important feature for those who may require it, is over-pronation support from a stability shoe. This support is built into the medial side of the midsole, starting at the heel and extending through and ending at approximately the end of your arch. If you do happen to fore-foot strike and require over-pronation support then all of this support from your stability shoe is negated.
Now a common, well supported argument is that when you forefoot strike you are using the calf muscle and Achilles as a shock absorber to dampen the ground reaction forces. This is true however this does create greater work for the calf and Achilles because they are working to both lower the heel to absorb shock and then to also propel the body forward. For the new and/or average runner who is possibly a little overweight, not conditioned, running at a slower cadence and speed, and excessively pronating this is incredibly fatiguing on these structures and can lead to an overuse injury especially in the foot, shins, calf, Achilles and surrounding structures.
My advice to someone who is thinking about starting or changing to forefoot striking is to first see a running experienced Physiotherapist who will assess running technique, calf/Achilles strength and core strength. They will also be able to provide you with an appropriate strength, flexibility and running program suited to the runner’s experience to gradually help build the running load.
Next is to see a Podiatrist who can discuss with you the footwear options that are available to you to ensure protection from the hard running surfaces. Giving you advice on other footwear that you are wearing for work and casually will also be important because this can have an impact on keeping adequate range of movement and recovering between running sessions.
For more information please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or book into one of the SportsMed Podiatry Clinics on the Gold Coast. For clinic contact information please go to www.sportsmedpodiatry.com.au
To book with Aleks for personalised advice & treatment
BILINGA (Southern Cross University Health Clinic) | Call (07) 5589 3252 | Wednesday 8:30 am until 12 noon
BURLEIGH HEADS (Burleigh Physiotherapy) | (07) 5535 5218 |Tuesday 8 am until 2 pm; Thursday 1 pm until 6 pm; Friday 2pm until 5pm
BROADBEACH (Raw Therapies) | (07) 5592 1341 | Tuesday 3 pm until 6:30 pm
ROBINA (Sports & Spinal) | (07) 5689 4138 | Monday 2 pm until 6 pm; Wednesday 2 pm until 6 pm
Aleks Baruksopulo is a Podiatrist on the Gold Coast with a special interest in Sports & Running injuries of the feet and lower limbs, he has over 14 years of experience working in Physiotherapy & Sports Medicine Clinics and has performed over 22,500 patient consultations within this setting.
His business is called SportsMed Podiatry which consults out of Physiotherapy practices across the Gold Coast including at Broadbeach, Burleigh Heads, Robina and the SCU health clinic. More information about Aleks.
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