heel striker vs midfoot striker???

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heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby chloe » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:14 pm

So what are y'all?
I have an overtraining ache at the moment that i went to the physio about the other day, and she told me that i have to change the way i run to become a heel striker as opposed to a midfoot striker which i naturally am. I didnt like her advice but didnt think it prudent to argue with a professional so came home and googled instead,. MAn was i living in the dark, had no idea there was such hot debate on the topic!!and of course im none the wiser or none the clearer about what is the best action for me right now IE listen to professional advice and spend god knows how many years retraining myself to run, or ignore it and carry on as i am as im happy and as i feel, has been sucessful for me. The issue is A/she says its the 'correct' way to run(heel that is) and B/she says it might well be that ive run the way i do sucessfully for the last ten years, but that is exactly the time frame that injuries start cropping up in!
Its all very depressing either way! :-)
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby skoptic » Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:46 pm

Hmmm.. Yeah there is an ongoing debate, and I'm cautious of anyone who claims 'THIS is the truth'!

The tendancy of late has been to get people to move away from heel striking saying that heel striking can increase injuries (looking at stats since the introduction of 'trainer' type shoes which allowed us to heel strike to our hearts content due to increased protection). But many people who move to midfoot also complain of getting injured (although it may because of how / speed of the change rather than midfoot inherently being bad)

The most convincing argument I've heard is that minimal shoes allow the body to feel whats going on more (rather than masking it with padding) .... and then your body tells you pretty damn quick whether what you're doing is causing pain or not! Those who use minimal shoes gravitate towards a midfoot or forefoot strike .. which they claim is more natural.

It depends a lot on what kind of overtraining injury you have - I presume as a midfoot it might be near metatarsals or near achilles? As a point of interest what shoes are you running in.. and how many miles have they done?

I've not heard the '10 years till injury starts' line.. sounds like $%llocks to me .. depends how much running you're doing not how many years!

p.s. always 'argue' with (preferably question) a professional ... if you don't challenge some things.. people will tell you anything! ;)
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby crapiecorn » Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:17 pm

chloe wrote:So what are y'all?
I have an overtraining ache at the moment that i went to the physio about the other day, and she told me that i have to change the way i run to become a heel striker as opposed to a midfoot striker

There are a lot of different opinions but almost all professionals agree that heel striking will slow you down ( breaking effect).
In my opinion heel striking just doesn't look smooth, all other factors a side.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby xrodolfox » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:37 pm

??? I'm going to be reading this thread with curiosity...
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby ninearms » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:56 pm

I was a heel striker, now a fore/midfoot striker. Very easy transition that basically involved getting shoes with no cushioning, no arch support, and zero drop and then walking a lot. Heel striking tends to be very pronounced when you walk, regardless of how you run, so for me learning to walk without smashing my heels into the ground made the transition to fore/midfoot striking when running very simple. Changing my running mechanics didn't require that much work as I've always done almost all of my running off-road, so my cadence and landing were pretty decent anyway. Glad I made the change though - definitely feel lighter and more nimble on my feet, and as a result running is much easier.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby andyO » Sun Aug 21, 2011 4:36 pm

Hi Chloe,

To be honest, if your ache is really bothering you I would go and see another physio, see if you can find one that specialises in running.

Most research done at the moment is indicating that the most efficient way to run is using a mid-forefoot strike rather than a heel strike. More than 10 years ago I decided to transition all my running over to a more fore-mid foot strike and have had much less overuse injuries since. If you look at the front of any big race the people there will have a fore-mid foot strike, check out Gebrsellassie here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_Yk1xeSLRk
and if it's good enough for him...

More specifically NO ONE ran with a heel strike before Mr Bowerman invented his new Nike shoes with lots of heel cushioning. You simply can't heel strike for long in 'normal' or pre-70s trainers, it's kinda ouchy. Bowerman invented his trainers based on his own assumption that it would make people faster, he carried out NO research to prove it would either make people faster or less injury prone, he just did it and with some clever marketing the world seems to have bought into it.

So, the Physio's statement that heel striking is the correct way to run is not true:
1) No one ran this way pre Bowerman
2) Bowerman's his new style of running was based on zip all research
3) Very few elite athletes in races heel strike

For me, I find the best way to check my running technique is when running on a paved/tarmac surface check it feels easy/smooth and sounds quiet (no foot slapping, scratching or scuffing noises on the ground).

That said, really hope your ache isn't too bad Chloe, could be something as simple as upping your training mileage quickly?

Andy
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby Island_runner » Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:41 pm

A bit late in the day on this topic, but I moved away from heel strike running and started forefoot by wearing minimal shoes. Why? well I always ended up getting knee injuries in heel striking shoes and whatever I did nothing seemed to work. After hearing about barefoot running I did some research and though this was my last change to see if I could become a runner! Thankfully I've never looked back and realise the foot is a wonderful creation and doesn't needs all the padding or protection that makes you heel strike. Just watch a child run and see how natural midfoot striking is.

The only thing is you need to start off easy and slowly build up again, otherwise your injure something after those muscles have been left dormant for so many years in all that padding. As for the heel strike being the natural way, I would beg to differ as I said before just watch a child run or try running barefoot yourself on a hard surface, your foot will soon show you what's the natural way to run!
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby Anton » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:52 pm

i used to heel strike, then changed to some minimal shoes. Initially i was running right on my forefoot...which gave me a whole bunch of other problems, but now have gravitated towards the mid foot and enjoy injury free running...no knee pain!! huzzah!!
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby Hiking Fox » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:21 am

skoptic wrote:The most convincing argument I've heard is that minimal shoes allow the body to feel whats going on more (rather than masking it with padding) .... and then your body tells you pretty damn quick whether what you're doing is causing pain or not! Those who use minimal shoes gravitate towards a midfoot or forefoot strike .. which they claim is more natural.


Minimal shoes encourage running without your heels even touching the ground and thus strengthen your foot arches. I actually enjoy running now that I've dropped cushioned shoes.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby xrodolfox » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:58 am

I still heel smash when I walk/jog/run after two+ years of minimal shoes. I still run terribly slow. I don't get it.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby roper » Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:57 pm

I vary my gait depending what I'm running on. I mainly run off-road so forefoot it better. It makes it easier to skip or jump over rock or things on the trail and provides a more stable landing, so less ankle twisting. To run down hill fast I would have to use more heel or rear part of the foot, for stability.
If I am running for a long time I try vary my gait which seems to help with stamina.

For walking and day to day use I try to ear barefoot shoes which I think helps keep my muscles and tendons more flexible.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby Catt Queen » Sat Jan 14, 2012 5:54 pm

Apparently "five finger" running shoes are the way to go... have heard great things about them but maybe just another gimmick.
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby ross88guy » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:57 pm

I run in Newton running shoes and try as much as possible to forefoot strike. However, after running for years in conventional 12 mm heel shoes I really struggle to run naturally over long distances and I sill revert to heel striking and plodding. I find it is much easier to run naturally when I am sprinting or running anything under a 10k pace.


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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby chloe » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:56 pm

well i never did get to the bottom of my strain/injury thing, i gave up on the physio that told me that i needed to change though, i just couldnt bring myself to respect her cos i just plain didnt believe her :-) so im still a midfoot runner but have turned to 95 percent off road and trail running which i think is key to keeping injury free, i use such a huge variety of strides and muscles and total body that i think my overall muscle use is so well balanced, no repetative daily grind!I also run in minimal shoes trail shoes and standard road shoes so i dont think its all about changing what shoes you run in.
I have my first trail ultra in 4 weeks! wish me luck! :-)
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Re: heel striker vs midfoot striker???

Postby runningman97 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:43 pm

Good luck with your race Chloe! Sounds like you were right to ditch that physio to be honest. Anyone who tells you heel striking is a natural running style has clearly never tried running barefoot. I'm a definite forefoot striker although it took some adjustment for me since I was used to running in super cushioned shoes that encourage heel striking (until consistent injury forced me to change).

After a difficult transition period to more minimal shoes I find it's so much better. Strong calves and achilles are all the cushioning you need. I just found my perfect running shoes in the saucony hattori, basically as light as a track shoe but with just enough protection in the sole to run on trails and gravel without discomfort. They feel incredible to run in
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