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heel striking and midfoot striking

3 watchers
Sep 2012
4:30pm, 19 Sep 2012
471 posts
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Miss Ali Bob
I have had shin splints going on 2 years thats why it's been up and down. I have tried to rest and then it flares up. I am doing crossfit which is both weight based and cardio training but this week I have had an awful cough and I can bearly breath without coughing so I shall be resting for the rest of the week.
Sep 2012
9:28am, 20 Sep 2012
5493 posts
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simbil
Sure, no point pushing it when you are sick or injured.

If you can find a level of weekly mileage that does not give you any shin issues, even if it is just 3 very short runs a week, then it would be good for you to get some consistent training in for a while I think. The crossfit should help a lot too.

One easy was to get lighter on your feet and less on your heel is by taking quicker steps when you run.
Sep 2012
9:36am, 20 Sep 2012
5403 posts
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The_Saint
Does anyone have links to 20 or more large scale, peer reviewed, long term studies examining the issue of footstrike and running? I am aware of an enormous body of pseudoscience which claims that the effect is at least as great as homeopathy.
Sep 2012
9:53am, 20 Sep 2012
5495 posts
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simbil
I don't think rhetorical questions are going to make her running any better Saint, but making changes to what she is currently doing at least stands a chance of improving her situation.

Maybe start a new thread if you want to discuss the merits of different gaits in general?
Sep 2012
12:38pm, 20 Sep 2012
5404 posts
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The_Saint
We should be aware of the distinct possibility that such a change may have no effect or a detrimental effect. That accounts for two thirds of the possible outcomes. Evidence would be good to see to establish that a course of action was reasonable.
Sep 2012
2:17pm, 20 Sep 2012
5496 posts
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simbil
In the absence of studies giving evidence either way, theoretical benefits based on data and calculation are all that can be used to make a rational choice.

The data is quite clear regarding smoothing out early peak load running midfoot compared to heel striking (Cavanagh 1980 Ground reaction forces in distance running).

Simple calculations can show that increasing cadence produce less net loading per step by decreasing vertical oscillation (http://canute1.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-equations-of-motion-of-the-runner-efficiency-increases-with-increasing-cadence/).

None of that really matters though for this thread which is about a specific case rather than running mechanics in general. The original poster was given advice by a physio with first hand knowledge of her specific injury. It is not relevant that you find the advice lacking, it's not about you.
Sep 2012
9:33am, 21 Sep 2012
444 posts
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Canute
Questions of running technique seem to generate controversy which can be unsettling for a person seeking advice regarding injury. Maybe controversy is inevitable in a topic where objective science and opinions based on faith get even more mixed up than in most areas of human endeavour (but not quite as badly as among football fans and nowhere near as badly as in politics.)

How can we identify the ‘objective science.’ In fact there are three main types of good scientific evidence regarding treatments:

1) large randomised double-blind controlled trials (which Saint wants to see, but do not exist for heel strike v mid-foot or other aspects of gait);

2) evidence based on careful observation of individuals or small samples of runners;

3) evidence from either measurement or calculation that shows that the theoretical principles of the proposed treatment are sound.

In the absence of large randomised double blind controlled trials, we have to rely on a judicious mix of the other two types of evidence.

As far as I can see, both careful observation of individuals and investigation of the theory strongly support relatively high cadence and short steps for minimization of injury and maximising efficiency.

However avoidance of injury also depends on identifying of anatomical variations and appropriate strengthening of body tissues. Heel-strike is not always bad, though it does produce a noticeable spike in the ground reaction force (see the data of Cavanagh as quoted by Simbil). If heel striking is associated with landing with the foot too far in front the torso, it definitely leads to a loss of efficiency (easily demonstrated by calculation based on Newton’s Laws of Motion) and probably increases injury risk for most individuals.
Sep 2012
10:20am, 21 Sep 2012
211 posts
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AndrewS
Be very careful of people who might offer certain advice as a means of getting you to sign up for coaching sessions or to buy books. Although it may not do you any harm, it might not make things any better either.
Saint is right (although I do agree with simbil that this might not be the best place to start the discussion), there is a lot of pseudoscience around running. Funding for large scale RCT's would need funding and I imagine the only people who could fund this are shoe manafacturers; it is not really in their interest to do so.

Miss Ali Bob-

It might be worth asking your physio how he/she recommends that you make that transition into midfoot. Is this physio experienced with running injuries? If not, find one that is. Not all physios have that expertise. Running clubs will usually recommend a good local physio.
I have had shin splints in the past and must have read everything I possibly could on the subject. I concluded that there are many causes and even more possible treatments for this pain. There isn't a one cure for it i'm afraid. And your physio might also be wrong. Don't be down heartened.
Best wishes
Sep 2012
3:18pm, 21 Sep 2012
445 posts
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Canute
I agree with Andrew about the need to ask the physio for his/her reasons for the recommendation, and how the cahnge should be achieved. If not convinced by the explanation, find a physio who has experience of adjusting clients’ running gait.

With regard to the ‘gold standard’ of large randomised controlled trials, even if there had been many such trials providing a convincing answer in favour of mid-foot or forefoot over heel striking, that would only demonstrate what is best for the typical person in the population represented in the studies. It would not demonstrate what is necessarily best for each individual in all circumstances. This is why there will always be a need for physios (and for coaches) who can assess an individual’s needs.

My own experience, based in fairly careful observation of both efficiency and the stress on my connective tissues over several years, is that mid-foot landing is usually best for me, but under some circumstances (eg slow long runs during a week in which I am pushing training volume to my upper limit) heel striking places less stress on my lower limbs
Sep 2012
3:25pm, 21 Sep 2012
14166 posts
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Fenland Runner
Not one to shirk controversy 'injury' is more likely to be due to over doing it than technique.

About This Thread

Maintained by Miss Ali Bob
This has probably been asked before but how do I go from heel striking to midfoot strike. My physio ...

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