Return to good old heel striking...

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Aug 2013
10:45pm, 27 Aug 2013
39 posts
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After running my first half marathon 2 1/2 years ago, i had a lot of pain up the outside of my lower right leg. I did a fair bit of research online and changed my running style to a midfoot / forefoot strike. 9 months later I ran a full marathon, and then 2 months after that ran another half. Since last feb I have had nothing but injuries. Plantar fascia (although that now seems to be a heel/achillies problem - physio doesn't seem to know), hamstring/glute/hip pain - all in the left leg - diagnosis - weak hip area on left side - weight train to strengthen. I was refered to another physio in the same clinic who was all about midfoot strike, and gave a few pointers to improve. The physio I see is through work, so first off I guess I need to get a second opinion. I'm also now developing bunions.

So after all that my real question to the floor is - has anyone returned to heel striking and found their injury problems subside?
Aug 2013
10:49pm, 27 Aug 2013
16,750 posts
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Not I.
Midfoot, high cadence, strong arse.
Aug 2013
11:38pm, 27 Aug 2013
26,824 posts
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Not I. But I'm not sure I ever was a heel striker.
Aug 2013
12:45am, 28 Aug 2013
740 posts
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As a kid I ran forefoot and have continued to do so most of my adult life. However, I have troublesome congenital downward protrusion of my metatarsal heads and quite often suffer serious bruising when I tread on small sharp stones. At times when the bruising become too painful I resort to heel striking for a few weeks to allow the bruises to resolve. Even when not troubled by bruises, I usually heel-strike deliberately when running on stony ground. I also usually heel strike while running on uneven ground when I am extremely tired because I feel a little more stable when heel striking under these circumstances (but I am old and my balance is not as good as it used to be).

In general, whatever style I am running I deliberately focus awareness on the contact of my feet with the ground quite a lot of the time as I run. However, it is necessary to learn to observe one’s own running style in a detached and non-judgmental manner. Otherwise there is a risk that conscious thinking will interfere with the well co-ordinated recruitment of leg muscles by the non-conscious parts of the brain.

Overall the merits of forefoot v heel strike remain unresolved despite the fervent beliefs of some committed forefoot strikers. What is fairly clear is that if you change to forefoot it is crucial to develop adequate strength of the Achilles and calf, and also in the muscles of the hip which have to stabilise the body. If you have been suffering Achilles problems it is almost certainly best to make sure that you allow the heel to touch the ground at some stage during stance. As JohnnyO says, high cadence also helps because it reduces the force experienced at each footfall.

However, I think the most important thing if you are suffering repeated injury is to find a physio who can analyse your problems without resorting to blind dogma about either heel striking or forefoot striking.
Aug 2013
11:01am, 28 Aug 2013
40 posts
  • 0
Definitely some things to look at in there. I have read before that heel striking and midfoot striking can both be used depending on the surface, and one of the major problems I find is a very stony section on Havant Parkrun that I don't enjoy running over at all. I shall attempt this approach at the weekend. As for high cadence, this is definitely something I have worked on in the past, but will put a bit more work into.

I currently run in Inov8 shoes with a 9mm heel to toe drop, and have some inov8 off road for winter. I am currently looking into something with a bit more padding and stability to combat my over-pronating left foot, and protect my toe joints.

Great to hear your thoughts. Thank you
Aug 2013
12:57pm, 28 Aug 2013
49,324 posts
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plodding hippo
Been a heel striker all my running career (11 years) and am quite happy with it and my injury rate thank you

Aug 2013
1:22pm, 28 Aug 2013
2,541 posts
  • 0
Heel-striker here too - my sister-in-law is a qualified Pilates instructor and reckoned I could more damage to my back (I have had sciatic problems in the past) by trying to change it, so I no longer worry :)

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About This Thread

Maintained by Arjin
After running my first half marathon 2 1/2 years ago, i had a lot of pain up the outside of my lower...

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