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Forefoot vs. Heel Striking, new studies suggest the latter.

#1
It looks like there are some "new studies" out that suggest heel striking is a more efficient technique than landing on the balls of your feet when running:
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/...ubt/?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=HL_IBS_20130605

I'm interested to hear what the opinions of you guys are on this. Personally, I've been a forefoot striker my entire life, although I don't use minimalist shoes. Despite being a former D-1 football player, I wouldn't consider myself a great runner (I played offensive line). Currently I am able to run a 20/100/19:25 PFT at 6'4" 215lbs. Obviously, I'd like to get that run as close to 18:00 as possible, and I'm open to anything that will allow me to push through my current plateau.

What technique do you 300 PFTers out there use?
 
#2
Sprint across a hard surface barefoot. Pay attention to how your feet are landing. I'll bet you ten thousand dollars you're not landing heel first. The idea of heel striking only came about when humans started wearing marshmallow puff running shoes. Every running malady I ever had went away when I reworked my stride to land on my forefoot. I run in racing flats which work well for running this way. Also in watching the fastest distance runners, I can't detect anyone that's heel striking. That study was poorly designed in my opinion. Extremely poorly designed actually.
 
#3
Thanks for the input. That's the conclusion I was leaning towards. I don't buy their statistic that nearly 70% of all runners land on their heels, as I was always taught to land on the forefoot, however I've only been running distances greater than a mile for about a year and a half and all the coaching I received was geared towards running the 40 as fast as possible. The only issue I've developed is mild plantar fasciitis, but I'm told that's due to my abnormally high arches. Do you have a specific pair of racing flats that you'd recommend? I assume by virtue of "flat" being in their name I'll need to add my arch support orthotics to them.
 

Spekkio

He bowls overhand.
#4
I think this topic is nuked among the average person who runs to stay in shape vice for serious competition. It's up there on all the contradictory studies in Men's Health magazines where the 'roided out guy tells you how he got 5% gains on his benchpress doing XXX or NBA players wearing that stupid stocking on their arms because it "stabilizes their elbow." Chances are you're not in that guy's category and you don't have his fitness goals. World class runner trying to win a gold medal? By all means, this is a meaningful discussion. Otherwise, run in a way that is comfortable/natural. If that's heel first in puffy sneakers as many people have done for quite some time, great. If that's in minimalist shoes, also great.
 
#5
I run on my heels, and I remember hearing about the supposed benefits of running on the balls of my feet. I tried it out for a week. I had to consciously think about my stride the entire time which got really old, and I ended up feeling sore all over my lower body.
 

IKE

Nerd Whirler
pilot
#6
Just to throw another statistically insignificant personal anecdote out there...

I decided to leave the 3mi/yr club about a year ago and starting running 15-30 mi/wk. 1/3 to 1/2 of those miles are run in NB Minimus (road or trail), and I always strive to land midfoot (it's not really forefoot, just not heel striking). I started all of this at 225 lb and have had zero injuries.

My major issue with the study was that it appears to be all treadmill running, which is decidedly not the same as road or trail running.
 

picklesuit

Living the GeoBachelor dream...
pilot
Contributor
#7
I've been a runner since I was 12-ish, and I've varied from the 3-mile club (this year) to running >40 miles per week. Competed in many a 5K, 10K, ran a half marathon in the Deid, ran XC all through high-school, and have destroyed countless pairs of shoes on the road/trail/track/treadmill... I can honestly say I have NEVER thought once about how my feet hit the ground. I think every person has their own natural stride because we are all built differently. I think trying to change your body around a pair of shoes or an Internet article is a quick way to get hurt.

Go run, does it hurt? Do it differently...Are you faster? Do it that way. Get away from the fad and the Internet crap, your body will tell you how to run.
Pickle
 
#8
Look up a DVD evolution running, buy it and play it several times.
Going out and drilling at 6:30 pace trying to lengthen your runs to 3-4-5-6 miles will just produce a 6:30 3 miler.
You should be running no more than 30 per week.
3 times a week run intervals, that means some very boring track work.
Run 40 second 200's with 60 second 200 rests intervals, do as many as you can maintain the pace. when you get to 12 reps then move on to 400's at 80 second pace, with a 400 at 2 min pace get to at least 8 fast 400's.
Mix this build with relaxing 45 min runs at areobic pace (you can carry on a conversation) On the day off do a core workout.
Next you run 1 mile at 5:30 pace, then a 2-3 minute lap repeat until you cant maintain 5:30 If you can do 4 of these you are ready to break 18:00
The week before run just 20 minutes each day except 2 days before PFT, during these runs do 5-6 30 second accelerations to the familiar 5:30 pace, This is called a "taper"
Watch what you eat or you will bounce up 5 pounds or more.
Don't worry about any special "carb loading" that is all crap anyway, besides you are walking around with about 90 minutes of rocket fuel anyway right now.
 

picklesuit

Living the GeoBachelor dream...
pilot
Contributor
#9
Look up a DVD evolution running, buy it and play it several times.
Going out and drilling at 6:30 pace trying to lengthen your runs to 3-4-5-6 miles will just produce a 6:30 3 miler.
You should be running no more than 30 per week.
3 times a week run intervals, that means some very boring track work.
Run 40 second 200's with 60 second 200 rests intervals, do as many as you can maintain the pace. when you get to 12 reps then move on to 400's at 80 second pace, with a 400 at 2 min pace get to at least 8 fast 400's.
Mix this build with relaxing 45 min runs at areobic pace (you can carry on a conversation) On the day off do a core workout.
Next you run 1 mile at 5:30 pace, then a 2-3 minute lap repeat until you cant maintain 5:30 If you can do 4 of these you are ready to break 18:00
The week before run just 20 minutes each day except 2 days before PFT, during these runs do 5-6 30 second accelerations to the familiar 5:30 pace, This is called a "taper"
Watch what you eat or you will bounce up 5 pounds or more.
Don't worry about any special "carb loading" that is all crap anyway, besides you are walking around with about 90 minutes of rocket fuel anyway right now.
Do I do all this on my heels or the balls of my feet?
Pickle
 

Recovering LSO

Suck Less
pilot
Super Moderator
Contributor
#10
Sprint across a hard surface barefoot. Pay attention to how your feet are landing. I'll bet you ten thousand dollars you're not landing heel first. The idea of heel striking only came about when humans started wearing marshmallow puff running shoes. Every running malady I ever had went away when I reworked my stride to land on my forefoot. I run in racing flats which work well for running this way. Also in watching the fastest distance runners, I can't detect anyone that's heel striking. That study was poorly designed in my opinion. Extremely poorly designed actually.
Also poorly designed was this post, without giving the original author credit. C'mon man, we've all read the Born to Run / Vibram advertisement/book.

I've run 27 marathons and ultras in the last three years, heel striking the whole way with no injuries.
 
#11
On your fore foot, The DVD will guide you. Basically you want to raise your efficiency, less up and down motion. You want your feet coming back as you strike and also minimize the time your feet are on the ground, Lean forward, shorten stride, and speed up cadence. Cycling can help with the nero muscular training. That portion is just as important as muscular strength believe it or not. I use Newton shoes, they are the only ones that are actually designed to help you run like this, but if you switch do it gradually otherwise you risk injury.
 

insanebikerboy

Internet killed the television star
pilot
Contributor
#12
On your fore foot, The DVD will guide you. Basically you want to raise your efficiency, less up and down motion. You want your feet coming back as you strike and also minimize the time your feet are on the ground, Lean forward, shorten stride, and speed up cadence. Cycling can help with the nero muscular training. That portion is just as important as muscular strength believe it or not. I use Newton shoes, they are the only ones that are actually designed to help you run like this, but if you switch do it gradually otherwise you risk injury.
To counter, super slo-mo video has shown that even "heel striking" is actually a mid-foot strike but to the naked eye it looks like the heel. To truly "heel strike" one has to consciously make the heel of their foot hit.
 
#13
When I see a trained athlete run 2 6 min miles using each technique, and when the forefoot method yeilds an average HR of 20 lower I become convinced. Also after suffering shin splints even in high school when I was much lighter, I have none, they are only memories. When I look at my shoes there is no wear on the heel and the wear shows on the forefoot. This is not to say that "heel" stricking does not work for some, Don Kardong to this day has a very ugly heel strike gate, always has, But to be legitimately (in my book) 3rd in an Olympic Marathon speaks for itself.
This method is just another technique, do what works for you.
 
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