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running form- toe or heel strike?

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Author Topic:   running form- toe or heel strike?
dennisreffner
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posted Sep-27-2006 10:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dennisreffner   Click Here to Email dennisreffner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, I am training for my first half-marathon, in November, and have found some advice online that suggested running so that you landed on the ball of your foot and springing forward, as opposed to striking your heel and rolling forward. I tried it on my last run, and it felt ok, just a bit strange. My calves are sore today, and I am not sure about changing my form. Any thoughts on this?

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770
Cool Runner
posted Sep-28-2006 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 770   Click Here to Email 770     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For shorter distances springing from the ball of your foot may be preferable to heel striking. For longer distances most runners will find heel to toe works better and tires them out less than flat foot (as I run) or running on the balls of your feet. I changed my form to springing from the ball of my foot for two months, suffered severe calf muscle problems and had to cancel a marathon in Quebec. So be careful. There are a lot of things on the internet and news media that will cause you more harm than good.

Keep in mind that what works for one runner does not translate necessarily to another runner.

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Forestina Gump
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posted Sep-29-2006 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Forestina Gump     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Quote:
_______________________________________________
Keep in mind that what works for one runner does not translate necessarily to another runner. There are a lot of things on the internet and news media that will cause you more harm than good.
________________________________________________

I agree, but ask your self what is comfortable for you ?

Generally its a midfoot strike which is more in the middle of the bottom of your foot. if you tend to Heel strike, the Problems you may have as you increase your distances are Achilles Tendon and Hamstring or Calf muscle problems.

Case in point. Last year I was training for my 2nd 1/2, when I had some pain in my feet and adjusted my stride to a heel strike thinking that would relieve the sorness in my feet?

NOT! I wound up instead with Pulled Hamstring muscles that kept me out from running the 1/2 plus 3 months off from Running.

But remember to always stretch gently pre run and do a short walk or easy jog to warm up and do the same after your Run and it may help with the sore muscles afterwards.

Forestina

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bullheads
Cool Runner
posted Sep-29-2006 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bullheads   Click Here to Email bullheads     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it would be best to do what feels natural. Everyone
is made differently.

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dennisreffner
Member
posted Sep-30-2006 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dennisreffner   Click Here to Email dennisreffner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the thoughful advice. It makes sense to find the form and balance that is right for you. When we quiet our busy brains down a bit, we may find our bodies have an inherent wisdom, or intuition about what is "correct" form.

As for me, I am going to save running on the balls of my feet for the sprint to the hot tub!

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dg12
Cool Runner
posted Oct-16-2006 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dg12   Click Here to Email dg12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 770:

heel to toe works better and tires them out less than flat foot (as I run) or running on the balls of your feet. I changed my form to springing from the ball of my foot for two months, suffered severe calf muscle problems and had to cancel a marathon in Quebec.


Your calves will hurt when running on the balls of your feet for prolonged time. It's not the design to run long on your toes.

Landing on your heels does put on the brakes as soon as your land. It also does jar your skeletal as a result. Landing midfoot allows your limbs to absorb the shock.

You also can't perform a "clawback" in the pushoff phase when you land your heels.

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figbash
Cool Runner
posted Oct-16-2006 12:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for figbash   Click Here to Email figbash     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't buy the arguments about doing what feels natural and everyone is built differently. If you are running in a way that goes against the way your body was designed, you will eventually have problems. This is especially true when it comes to heel striking when you run. Your feet were designed to roll in or pronate when they hit the ground to help absorb the shock. If you run in such a way that you land on your heels, this can't happen. When your feet hit the ground heel first, all of the impact forces are sent directly up your leg and through your knees and hips. Try running barefoot on a hard surface and see how it feels to heel strike. Cushioned running shoes help to absorb some of the impact, but the best solution is to learn how to run properly.

The best and easiest way to get away from heel striking is simply speed up your stride rate. This will force your feet to land more under your body rather than out in front so that you land on your midfoot instead of your heels. An added bonus for a shorter stride is that by taking smaller steps, you spend less time in the air and your feet will hit the ground softer than if you take larger (higher) steps. Once you learn to run with proper form, you will run in pretty much the same way regardless of your pace. The only thing that will change as you speed up or slow down is the length of your stride.

I recommend the book Programmed to Run for anyone interested in improving their form. The author does a great job of explaining exactly what good form is and offers many drills and exercises designed to help you achieve it.

Tom

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superburtm
Cool Runner
posted Jan-31-2007 09:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for superburtm   Click Here to Email superburtm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I AM GONNA SAY THIS IN THE KINDEST POSSIBLE WAY..YOU SURE SEEM TO KNOW IT ALL . HOWEVER I SEEM TO THINK IF YOU KNEW IT ALL YOU WOULD BE RUNNING A BIT FASTER THAN A 4 HR MARATHON.

I THINK ADVISING SOMEBODY ON THEIR STRIDE OVER THE INTERNET IS DANEGEROUS BUSINESS FOR YOU TO BE DOING. YOU ARE NOT A PRO,AN AMAZING RUNNER OR A DR.

quote:
Originally posted by figbash:
I don't buy the arguments about doing what feels natural and everyone is built differently. If you are running in a way that goes against the way your body was designed, you will eventually have problems. This is especially true when it comes to heel striking when you run. Your feet were designed to roll in or pronate when they hit the ground to help absorb the shock. If you run in such a way that you land on your heels, this can't happen. When your feet hit the ground heel first, all of the impact forces are sent directly up your leg and through your knees and hips. Try running barefoot on a hard surface and see how it feels to heel strike. Cushioned running shoes help to absorb some of the impact, but the best solution is to learn how to run properly.

The best and easiest way to get away from heel striking is simply speed up your stride rate. This will force your feet to land more under your body rather than out in front so that you land on your midfoot instead of your heels. An added bonus for a shorter stride is that by taking smaller steps, you spend less time in the air and your feet will hit the ground softer than if you take larger (higher) steps. Once you learn to run with proper form, you will run in pretty much the same way regardless of your pace. The only thing that will change as you speed up or slow down is the length of your stride.

I recommend the book Programmed to Run for anyone interested in improving their form. The author does a great job of explaining exactly what good form is and offers many drills and exercises designed to help you achieve it.

Tom



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JamesE
Cool Runner
posted Feb-02-2007 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JamesE   Click Here to Email JamesE     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by superburtm:
I AM GONNA SAY THIS IN THE KINDEST POSSIBLE WAY..YOU SURE SEEM TO KNOW IT ALL . HOWEVER I SEEM TO THINK IF YOU KNEW IT ALL YOU WOULD BE RUNNING A BIT FASTER THAN A 4 HR MARATHON.

I THINK ADVISING SOMEBODY ON THEIR STRIDE OVER THE INTERNET IS DANEGEROUS BUSINESS FOR YOU TO BE DOING. YOU ARE NOT A PRO,AN AMAZING RUNNER OR A DR.


I am gonna say this in the kindest possible way - QUIT YELLING

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MissPratt
Cool Runner
posted Feb-02-2007 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MissPratt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree. Easy does it - we get your point!

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superburtm
Cool Runner
posted Feb-03-2007 04:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for superburtm   Click Here to Email superburtm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by JamesE:
I am gonna say this in the kindest possible way - QUIT YELLING

Sorry I didn't realize caps lock was on until the end and I wasn't about to retype.

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Brian McN
Member
posted Feb-03-2007 05:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brian McN   Click Here to Email Brian McN     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Heel striking worked for Deke, Treacy, and Carroll. A lot of back and hip problems but toe strikers have a lot of achilles, plantar problems. So, go with what works for you.

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foxtrot
Cool Runner
posted Feb-03-2007 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for foxtrot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Brian McN:
Heel striking worked for Deke, Treacy, and Carroll. A lot of back and hip problems but toe strikers have a lot of achilles, plantar problems. So, go with what works for you.

I can only speak for myself of course. BIG 1!!!!!!!!!!! But they can be avoided if we toe strikers would stretch once in awhile, so I am told.

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tigger
Cool Runner
posted Feb-04-2007 06:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tigger     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are many good heel striking runners out there and there are many who land midfoot.

I've read (I bought it several years ago.) the book figbash mentions and it's well worth buying. I used the book's advice to change my stride from heel to midfoot, as figgy suggests....simply speed up your turnover.

Fig alludes to the potential for injury due to improper mechanics, and it is a possible problem when a runner begins to increase mileage and get more serious about improvement. For most runners heel striking probably doesn't increase risk significantly, so you may wish to hold off any changes in mechanics until you learn more about what proper form is all about, and then make informed changes that will help your overall results. Simply run as you feel, and only change if you are having problems with your current style.

Another good resourse is "Run Strong" by Kevin Beck, who is a pretty good runner and (I think) a heel striker. There is a chapter in this book on proper run mechanics.


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sjutton
Cool Runner
posted Feb-16-2007 07:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sjutton   Click Here to Email sjutton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
superburtm,

First of all, you are extremely rude. Please re-read the post that started this thread. All Figbash did was respond to Dennis's request to provide his thoughts. YOU OWE FIGBASH AN APOLOGY (like the caps?)


Dennis,

I am in the long process of correcting a hard heel-strike. I started in July '06. I did something similar to what Figbash said after looking at a bunch of different websites/articles. My experience has been positive (I'm a fairly novice runner at about 30 mpw now). I ran my first HM in October. At the beginning I had to slow WAY down. Actually I didn't slow down enough and did have about 3 weeks of calve soreness and for about 1-2 weeks a sore PF (mild case). Since those early days I have been injury/pain free, etc etc. I think the change has been worth it, but I won't know for sure until more time (and miles) goes by.

With that said, I do remember one of the better runners who post here, Andy Kass said the as long as you have a mild heel strike (your foot is not slapping the ground), you should be fine even if you decide not to change.

Good Luck,
Steve

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Canfit
Cool Runner
posted Feb-22-2007 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Canfit     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You might want to take a look at a book titled "ChiRunning". Has some great thougths on form etc. ...makes a lot of sense. Seems to recommend what's natural for the body - striking in middle of foot, taking advantage of gravity, etc.. Goes against some of Galloway thoughts though (running with a lean vs running upright), but I like the claim that if you can master form, it will help you run injury free. I've had some success with it. Had a PB during my last marathon by 12 mins (4:05). Don't know how much was related to ChiRunning, but I have worked on changing some things. I feel better about my own form now than I used to.

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770
Cool Runner
posted Feb-22-2007 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 770   Click Here to Email 770     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I tried Chi Running about 3 years ago. It caused a calf muscle injury and I had to cancel out of the Quebec marathon as well as my unon-refundable airfare. Once I went back to my normal running I was fine. Use whatever works for you but I stay clear of Chi Running and it's offshoots that have appeared on the Internet and some media the past couple of years.

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770
Cool Runner
posted Feb-25-2007 10:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 770   Click Here to Email 770     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In all fairness to Canfit I must issue an oops. The running method I was using at the time of my calf injury was The Pose Method of Running as opposed to the Chi Method of Running. I have looked at their website (Chi) in the past and today again. The two methods look very similar to me which is why I confused Chi with Pose. Both claim, as does Galloway, to promote injury free running.

My only caution with either of the two methods is always be careful when contemplating changing your running style.

That being said I am not opposed to experimentation with various running methods depending on a runner's goals and observations. By experimenting I have gone from Galloway to a couple of other methods, includng Pfitzinger and Higdon, and back to Galloway which works best for me. I've even alternated between toe-to-hell and toe strike before setting on a mid-foot strike which is the actual subject of this thread.

If Chi or Pose or a combination works to improve one's running enjoyment and/or goals, use them.

[This message has been edited by 770 (edited Feb-25-2007).]

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Canfit
Cool Runner
posted Mar-01-2007 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Canfit     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
770 - thanks for your "oops" ... you do raise some very good points and I'm certainly not an expert in any of this. I do think ChiRunning, like Galloway, promotes some good basic running principles (sometimes hard to argue with the theory).

Like you say though, you do need to be careful about changing your running style. I've been experimenting, but not sure I've come up with what's best for me yet. I've had a couple of injuries with hamstrings and calves over the past 2-3 years and am trying to find that magic 'injury free' formula for running.

Speaking of Chi and Galloway, do you run with a lean or straight up. Chi promotes the lean (using gravity/bending at the hip) and Galloway straight and tall (for the breathing)? Any preference? I've always run straight up and am wondering if the lean has practical merit or is it just a lot of effort with potential risk of injury.

PJ

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770
Cool Runner
posted Mar-01-2007 04:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 770   Click Here to Email 770     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I run straight up and feel comfortable doing that. I feel more in alignment than the slight leaning forward from the ankles that Chi Running advocates. My biggest problem with running with a slightly forward lean is what happens if you stumble or begin to fall and you are already leaning forward. Isn't your ability to recover and prevent face planting somewhat reduced?

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npcampbell1
Member
posted Mar-02-2007 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for npcampbell1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to add something, I use Chi method (for about a year now) after having some serious calf problems trying Pose. Knock on wood - no injuries and my times have reduced. Midfoot landing with a slight lean has helped me. I also fouhgt achilles issues (stemming from an over use injury training for Honolulu). Since changing to a midfoot land it has not been a problem for me. I can't fully attribute this to only running style change as I also changed my training schedule to run smarter and not create injuries.

I do agree with some of the statements that you should find what works for you naturally, but I had to try several things before I found what worked for me. Lots of good advice but utlimately you have to try different things. Einstein said that "insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" so I take this to mean if one thing doesn't work for you, try something else.

BTW - I used the run/walk method coupled with my Chi style to finish DWD Goofy and my times were only slightly longer (couple of minutes each) than just the individual events. So mixing and matching works well me. I'm interested in getting better without getting hurt (been there, done that, got the t-shirt).

Good luck from this 4 hr (but getting faster - I hope) marathoner. :-)

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superburtm
Cool Runner
posted Mar-02-2007 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for superburtm   Click Here to Email superburtm     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
sorry figbash!


quote:
Originally posted by sjutton:
superburtm,

First of all, you are extremely rude. Please re-read the post that started this thread. All Figbash did was respond to Dennis's request to provide his thoughts. YOU OWE FIGBASH AN APOLOGY (like the caps?)


Dennis,

I am in the long process of correcting a hard heel-strike. I started in July '06. I did something similar to what Figbash said after looking at a bunch of different websites/articles. My experience has been positive (I'm a fairly novice runner at about 30 mpw now). I ran my first HM in October. At the beginning I had to slow WAY down. Actually I didn't slow down enough and did have about 3 weeks of calve soreness and for about 1-2 weeks a sore PF (mild case). Since those early days I have been injury/pain free, etc etc. I think the change has been worth it, but I won't know for sure until more time (and miles) goes by.

With that said, I do remember one of the better runners who post here, Andy Kass said the as long as you have a mild heel strike (your foot is not slapping the ground), you should be fine even if you decide not to change.

Good Luck,
Steve


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