Should you change from heel striking to forefoot landing?
This is a common question I get asked. And I very often see coaches and runners advising others to run on the balls of their feet. So should you change?
A recent review by Anderson et al (2020) looked at 53 retrospective studies that compared rearfoot strike (RFS) vs non-rearfoot strike (NRFS) running patterns in relation to injury, running economy and biomechanics
A causative relationship between foot strike and injury risk could not be determined. Limited evidence suggests an association between NRFS running and lower rates of repetitive stress injury Limited evidence shows no difference in running economy between natural RFS and NRFS patterns. Running economy was reduced in the short-term when imposing NRFS onto habitual RFS runners NRFS is associated with these biomechanics:
average and peak vertical loading rate
knee flexion range of motion
patellofemoral joint stress
peak internal ankle plantarflexor moment
Changing foot strike pattern cannot be recommended for uninjured rearfoot strikers
However, there may be an indication to consider the change for injured runners experiencing knee pain
The important thing is to take a step back and look at the context of the runner, rather than becoming obsessed with one aspect that doesn't tell the story on its own
If you need help with your running technique, please head to https://www.healthhp.com.au/running-gait-analysis or don't hesitate to contact us
Anderson, Laura M., et al. "What are the benefits and risks associated with changing foot strike pattern during running? A systematic review and meta-analysis of injury, running economy, and biomechanics." Sports Medicine 50.5 (2020): 885-917