Toe/heel strike

Toe/heel strike

Post by John Perr » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00


I have been running for about 25 years (am now 49)
and have always contacted the ground heel first
when running. I had not thought much about this
and was not really aware that there was any other
way to do it. I am not at all a competitive
runner, I just do it because I have got to quite
like it and you can run to places you couldn't get
to most other ways except walking. I did once
enter a 1/2 marathon which took me 1hr 40mins,
about average for a low key event of this kind. I
stayed completely injury free until the last three
years when my knees started to feel a bit
strained. Injury would probably be too strong a
word for this, it just doesn't feel quite right
around the knee area and I have much reduced the
amount of running I do in the hope of not making
things worse. Reading some of the messages to this
list I notice that some people recommend a toe
strike style of running and as an engineer I can
see that this should indeed reduce the bending
moment on the knee when your foot contacts the
ground. I have recently tried running this way, it
seems a bit strange but one could get used to it.
Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
there any good evidence either from the experience
of
runners or in medical literature?

I have only recently looked at this list, so
perhaps this question has already been covered.

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00



Quote:
> Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
> really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
> there any good evidence either from the experience
> of
> runners or in medical literature?

Someone once posted here that in the toe strike form, the ankles absorb much
of the impact, while in heel striking, the knee does.

However, let me caution that we're not actually talking about literal toe
striking. Depending on the distances you're running, you want to run more on
the BALLS of your feet for shorter distances, and more midfoot landing for
longer distances.

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Robert Grumbi » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00


Quote:

>Reading some of the messages to this
>list I notice that some people recommend a toe
>strike style of running and as an engineer I can
>see that this should indeed reduce the bending
>moment on the knee when your foot contacts the
>ground. I have recently tried running this way, it
>seems a bit strange but one could get used to it.
>Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
>really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
>there any good evidence either from the experience
>of runners or in medical literature?

  Forefoot rather than toe, but it seems so.  My
own experience (4 years now) is that when I run
more to the forefoot and with a quick cadence (towards
180 footfalls/minute), my knees are happier.  Shifting
back to the heels or slowing the cadence tends to make
the knees less happy.

--
Robert Grumbine http://www.radix.net/~bobg/ Science faqs and amateur activities notes and links.
Sagredo (Galileo Galilei) "You present these recondite matters with too much
evidence and ease; this great facility makes them less appreciated than they
would be had they been presented in a more abstruse manner." Two New Sciences

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by dr.wal.. » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00

There was a post about a year and a half ago by Ozzie Gontang that changed my running style from heel-toe to landing on the balls of my feet. Try as I might, I have been unable to locate the original post on Deja Vu but I believe it was posted 1/17/99.

There is also a video on the POSE method which I recently bought which teaches the same concept. Since I am travelling on business, I do not have access to some stuff but in my opinion it is worth pursuing.

Regards,
SDW


Quote:


>> Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
>> really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
>> there any good evidence either from the experience
>> of
>> runners or in medical literature?

>Someone once posted here that in the toe strike form, the ankles absorb much
>of the impact, while in heel striking, the knee does.

>However, let me caution that we're not actually talking about literal toe
>striking. Depending on the distances you're running, you want to run more on
>the BALLS of your feet for shorter distances, and more midfoot landing for
>longer distances.

>C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00



Quote:
> OK so midfoot is the way to go for distance runners. I am a heel
> striker so when i went out last night i tried to land mid foot and
> move my landing zone back under my body but when i did it feels and
> sounds like i am running flat footed (I have a neutral foot normaly).
> It tended to be a very jarring gait and very noisy.
> Am i doing somthing wrong or is this how it is and i just need to get
> used to it?

> steve..............
> Adelaide
> South Oz

Yes, midfoot is the way to go for distance running. I wouldn't say midfoot
is the way to go for distance runners. I consider myself a distance runner,
but I use forefoot running when I'm doing intervals; and midfoot for tempo
and longer.

A sort of crude way of putting it is this: the shorter the distance, the
more on the front of the foot we run on. However, this kind of position
cannot be held for long distances simply because we tire out. At least this
is my understanding.

It doesn't mean that the heel doesn't strike the ground. It means it strikes
it last. However, don't do what I originally did and over compensated and
ran way too high on my toes. Running too high on your toes can be unstable
leading to tibialis strain and calf strain. Changing running form takes
experimenting and you might feel aches here and there originally...or like
me, worse, got injured. :)

For an expert view on this issue, look at Michael Yessis's "Explosive
Running." Definitely a recommended book for any runner looking to improve
their running form.

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00



Quote:
> OK so midfoot is the way to go for distance runners. I am a heel
> striker so when i went out last night i tried to land mid foot and
> move my landing zone back under my body but when i did it feels and
> sounds like i am running flat footed (I have a neutral foot normaly).
> It tended to be a very jarring gait and very noisy.
> Am i doing somthing wrong or is this how it is and i just need to get
> used to it?

Oh...I forgot to answer the other part of your question. Yes, running
midfoot is very like running like the whole foot lands on the ground at the
same time. That's basically the idea. The thing to remember too is that when
your foot strikes the ground, your foot should be hitting directly under the
centre of your gravity or even a bit behind it. If your foot hits in front
of your centre of gravity, you're overstriding (a bit like Groucho Marx
style).

Hope this helps.

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00



Quote:


> Thanks for that informative post. I agree that the different distances use
> different muscle groups. I don't know about folks here, but I view running
> as a kind of dance movement: form, grace, and power are important in the
> sport. Depending on the distance I run, my form changes a bit too--higher
> knee lifts for the shorter distances and more running on the toes than the
> middle and long distances. And especially road running, where I typically
> land midfoot and then toe-off. I don't run toe exclusively on the road.
> C

Geez Ozzie, do you keep an archive of everything we write? ;-) I'm sure some
of my words are going to come back and haunt me eventually. :)

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00



Quote:
> I'll bet it would be a good idea to do some regular (once
> a week) treadmill work barefoot, to stregthen what gets
> atrophied by wearing shoes.  I don't trust anywhere
> outside around here, even grass - I don't feel like stepping
> on glass or worse, a needle. I live in a pretty urban
> environment, so it would have to be treadmill work.

Hmm...the treadmill...I'm don't know. Start out slow, because I'd imagine
the treadmill belt can actually be quite warm from the motor running..? Just
my guess. I can understand your fear of running barefoot outside. I haven't
actually tried running barefoot, but I think Yessis makes a good point that
barefoot running can help strengthen the feet. Don't you all find it
surprising that as much as we use our legs and feet to run, we hardly talk
about how to strengthen the feet? We talk about strengthening the lower
legs, quads, blah blah blah, but the feet hardly gets much attention!

Thank God I'm finally running again...my injury seems to have gone after 2.5
months. I'm still taking it easy because I know that even though I might not
be feeling the injury, it probably is still in a weakened stage. But soon
I'll start barefoot running on the beach (by the packed sand).

Anyway, isn't "Explosive Running" a great book? :) I particularly like the
strength training exercises he gives us because they are so specific to
running. In fact, for the 2.5 months that I wasn't running, I was strength
training. The first time I went back to running, I immediately did hills
with my cross country team and I could feel the strength I had, even without
running for so long!

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sat, 16 Sep 2000 04:00:00


wrote on 2000-09-16 2:47 am:

Quote:
> I've done this sport for 43 years, 20 years out of it at high intensity.
> Currently, I do 30-50 mpw depending on the season. Now, as the weather
> cools I'm upping my mileage to 50 again.

> Have always been a forefoot striker.
> In fact, I never gave it a single thought until recently when reading
> the rr posts on the subject.

That's great! I started out as an overstrider and heel runner. In fact, I
have pictures that my dad took of my when I first began running and I also
have pictures now of me running. What a change! In the old picture, the
forward leg was basically straight and heel striking. The new pictures, the
legs are bent and the feet land slightly behind my hips or directly under.

C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Stev » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 06:53:56

OK so midfoot is the way to go for distance runners. I am a heel
striker so when i went out last night i tried to land mid foot and
move my landing zone back under my body but when i did it feels and
sounds like i am running flat footed (I have a neutral foot normaly).
It tended to be a very jarring gait and very noisy.
Am i doing somthing wrong or is this how it is and i just need to get
used to it?

steve..............
Adelaide
South Oz

On Fri, 15 Sep 2000 08:29:26 -0700, Conal Guan-Yow Ho

Quote:



>> Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
>> really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
>> there any good evidence either from the experience
>> of
>> runners or in medical literature?

>Someone once posted here that in the toe strike form, the ankles absorb much
>of the impact, while in heel striking, the knee does.

>However, let me caution that we're not actually talking about literal toe
>striking. Depending on the distances you're running, you want to run more on
>the BALLS of your feet for shorter distances, and more midfoot landing for
>longer distances.

>C

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Denny Anders » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 10:58:38

...........snip setup.......................

Quote:
>things worse. Reading some of the messages to this
>list I notice that some people recommend a toe
>strike style of running and as an engineer I can

As others have said, midfoot to forefoot landing.

Quote:
>see that this should indeed reduce the bending
>moment on the knee when your foot contacts the
>ground. I have recently tried running this way, it
>seems a bit strange but one could get used to it.

Strongly recommend you resolve it the "natural" way.  

Find a nice, safe stretch of grass. Take off your shoes and run slowly
in each direction to check it out for surprises. Then, with each pass
gradually increase speed until you finish in a near all-out sprint.

During the process pay very close attention to how your feet are
touching down. Heel first (I don't think so), midfoot and or forefoot
first. Chances are your body will give immediate feedback that it
doesn't care for the heel-first landing. A BIG clue. At slower speeds
the midfoot landing will feel fairly comfortable. Finally, at higher
speeds there will be NO other choice but to land/pushoff
"forefoot-heel-forefoot.

Without shoes (mfr's coffins) to hide the stress, you'll realize quite
soon that landing on the bare heel is painful. It was not meant to be.
So, why,oh why, would heel landing be natural when  in shoes? Answer:
it's not, but lots of heel cushioning sells (expensive) shoes.

As an engineer, you'll appreciate that the foot/ankle/achilles
tendon/calve muscles combination is a well designed spring-lever
system. Used properly the knees should never be obliged to suffer
abuse.

Quote:
>Can anyone tell me if toe rather than heel strike
>really does reduce the risk of knee injury?. Is
>there any good evidence either from the experience
>of
>runners or in medical literature?

Look at this abstract:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov:80/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubM...

Also, when at the above site, click on the "related articles" link.
That should keep you busy.

I've also been running for more than 25 yrs - and have never had a
single knee problem. Even at age 59, logging 65 miles per week, no
hint of knee problems. I feel strongly that it's because I have landed
mid-to-forefoot for most of those years.

This year I also switched to 8oz. training racing shoes (low heel),
for all running, believing that the highly touted (by shoe companies)
need for "more and more cushioning" is so much drivel. Sure enough.
All that cushioning I needed in the past never was necessary.

Cheers,

Denny

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by SwStudi » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 12:16:55



Quote:

> For an expert view on this issue, look at Michael Yessis's "Explosive
> Running." Definitely a recommended book for any runner looking to improve
> their running form.

I finally was able to get my hands on that book today - I
had to go to Toronto to get it (I was there for other reasons
and thought of my difficulty in finding it here in Hamilton,
luckily, upon seeing a bookstore).

Anyway, browsing through it right now it appears to
have a lot of the type of information I was looking for.
I already like the looks of the "barefoot running" section,
where he discusses the fact that the shoes we all wear
(no matter what kind) are actually *creating* many of
the knee/ankle/arch problems themselves, by weakening
the very areas we need to strengthen to avoid injury.

I'll bet it would be a good idea to do some regular (once
a week) treadmill work barefoot, to stregthen what gets
atrophied by wearing shoes.  I don't trust anywhere
outside around here, even grass - I don't feel like stepping
on glass or worse, a needle. I live in a pretty urban
environment, so it would have to be treadmill work.

David (in Ontario)

 --
--
 :*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.
 "Nunc scio quit sit amor."
.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:._.:*~*:.

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by swiftEmm » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 18:47:33

I've done this sport for 43 years, 20 years out of it at high intensity.
Currently, I do 30-50 mpw depending on the season. Now, as the weather
cools I'm upping my mileage to 50 again.

Have always been a forefoot striker.
In fact, I never gave it a single thought until recently when reading
the rr posts on the subject.

When I started running the sneakers were pretty flimsy, so one learned
quickly that the only way to cushion the shock of landing was thru
forefoot strike.
When landing on the forefoot, the leg below the ankle acts as a shock
absorber. The forefoot falling back onto the heal and then rolling back
up onto the forefoot helps disipate the energy of impact by spreading
the impulse over longer time period resulting in a smoother transient
force profile.

Looking at it from my personal vantage point, I do conclude that
forefoot running is much easier on the knees. Naturally, there may be
other factors at play, of hereditary nature or some other, who knows.
Anyway, I'am 58 and  my knees feel like new although I can't tell how
they look under the microscope.    
Two fellow runners that I know who have running longer than me, have no
knee problems. One of them has been doing it since 1947. Naturally, they
both are forefoot strikers.  
Just some anecdotal evidence as to the benefits of forefoot striking.
Of course, in all those years I knew hundreds of runners. Many have
fallen by the wayside sidelined by injuries including knee injuries.
Some of them, sadly, are taking part in the big track meet in the sky.
They were forefoot strikers as well.

Pete

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Aleksi Kolehmaine » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 04:00:00

Quote:
> Anyway, isn't "Explosive Running" a great book? :) I particularly like the
> strength training exercises he gives us because they are so specific to
> running. In fact, for the 2.5 months that I wasn't running, I was strength
> training. The first time I went back to running, I immediately did hills

Yep, I totally agree. It's one of the best running books I've read for a
while. Finally, someone writes something new instead of the usual:
"to improve your lactate threshold you must.. bla bla... "

And the stretching exercises are great too. He doesn't believe in static
stretching and he shows active stretches, which are designed improve
joint mobility. The book is really worth every penny.

--

 
 
 

Toe/heel strike

Post by Conal Guan-Yow H » Sun, 17 Sep 2000 04:00:00


wrote on 2000-09-16 12:08 am:

Quote:
> And the stretching exercises are great too. He doesn't believe in static
> stretching and he shows active stretches, which are designed improve
> joint mobility. The book is really worth every penny.

Yessis's book is great in general. But, for a better book on stretches, I
would recommend Jim Wharton's "Active Isolated Stretching". I actually
combine both what I learn from Yessis and from Wharton on stretching.

A lot of running books out there, as you imply, really are just repetition
of the same thing which doesn't help runners move beyond certain stages. I
have a couple of those books on my shelf (yuck! Some of them were presents).

C