It’s a big issue OR non-issue depending on how you view it. There is no ‘best foot strike’… it is very individual, based on a number of factors.

It is very common a runner will present to us with hip, knee or shin pain and with small changes in cadence and foot strike we can significantly reduce pain or remove it all together.

This doesn’t mean you were running wrong, this doesn’t mean we will keep that technique change forever… it simply means we have changed how you are loading your body… we need to consider everything!

What affects foot strike?

  1. Shoes – ‘Low drop’ shoes = More likely to land on the front half of your foot.
  2. Shoes – ‘Big heel’ 12mm shoes = More likely to land like this guy ?‍ on your heel.
  3. Speed – Speed will change where you land.
  4. Cadence – Higher cadence will bring you to the front of your foot and a lower cadence will have you being a rear or midfoot striker.
  5. Your history – I treated a dancer who spent her whole life on her toes… she beautifully galloped on her toes when she ran… no surprise she had forefoot bony stress… your history matters…. we don’t always pick or learn the best running technique.

What do we know?

Heel striking itself is not the issue. Most of us heel strike. If you overstride and have a big inclination angle this will increase the forces through your hip and knee.

  • To avoid overstriding and a large inclination angle… increase your cadence, take shorter faster steps, use a metronome, listen to music around 170bpm, run softer or run quieter… they all work… just depends if you have rhythm… like an internal cue or like an external cue.
  • Only a small increase in cadence can reduce your overstride, reduce your inclination angle, reduce forces at the knee by up to 20%…. and the good news… it won’t come at any extra metabolic cost… Ie it’s not harder to do…

The takeaway?

There is no right and wrong… one-foot strike will load your body differently to the next… it’s all about where you are in your running journey… where your niggles are… and how you feel as a runner.

  1. If you’re a runner… get assessed… know your cadence, foot strike, shoe drop and how to modify it out on your runs.
  2. Don’t worry if you’re a heel striker – just make sure you aren’t overstriding.
  3. Don’t make any technical changes that mean you move from one end of the spectrum to the other… this is a recipe for injury… Eg if you’re a heel striker and turn into a forefoot striker after 1 session… this is bad! even if it feels good… this is a large change and needs to be respected.
  • Do it with the guidance of a professional.
  • Do it with the guidance of a professional.
  • Do it with the guidance of a professional.

Big shout out to Tim Bransdon at the The Running LabChristopher Johnson of RunCadence and Zeren PT & PerformanceTom Goom from RunningPhysio you have all helped iMove help runners in the best way possible.

iMove Physio Panania servicing Revesby, East Hills, Milperra, Padstow and Picnic Point.

iMove Physio Miranda servicing Miranda, Caringbah, Cronulla, Taren Point, Gymea, Kirawee.

iMove Physio Rozelle servicing Balmain, Lilyfield, Drummoyne, Pyrmont and Leicchardt.