Yesterday we touched on how the front of your foot provides more ‘gripping power’ therefore more balance.  Did you run yesterday and notice how you were landing?  If you noticed your gait was shorter landing with your feet underneath your body – good job, you can keep reading for more affirmation ;)

If you felt like you were landing on your heel and your foot was out in front of your body – this post is for you!

When you walk, you land on your heels. When you sprint, you land on your toes. An optimal running gait falls somewhere in-between. Efficient running is about landing on your sweet spot. Not your heel, not your toes.

Heel striking happens in front of your center of gravity, creating a deceleration at impact.  More shock and more injuries.  The forefoot strike happens naturally right below your center of gravity.

IT’S TIME FOR A LITTLE DEMO
Take off your shoes again – it’s barefoot time.  Act like you are jumping an invisible jump rope.  Pay special attention to how you are landing.

I can guess with almost 100% certainty you are NOT landing on your heels when you jump – you are landing on the balls of your feet…. am I right??

Now hop on one foot.  Still landing on your forefoot aren’t you?

Now alternate hopping from one foot to another kinda like you are jogging in place.  Bet you are still landing forefoot…. now tilt your upper body forward and start jogging.  Still running on your forefoot I’m guessing. 

Run barefoot to discover your optimal running form. You’ll discover immediately that when you run barefoot, you’re not landing on your heels. Instead you are landing on your midfoot/forefoot.

Think about it – if you were barefoot and you landed on your heels first you’d probably break every bone back there…..

So then I ask the question…. WHY on earth would you strike your heel first when running in shoes?

Example of forefoot runner (first) and heel striker (second)

Because it’s padded in shoes you say??  Yup.  Because the shoe companies realize that most people have sloppy form so they pad the heel.  And people get injured.  So they pad the heel more… and with a heel super padded you don’t stand a CHANCE to be able to land on your forefoot!!

They ENABLE you to have bad form!! Shame on them.

I know – it’s confusing.  You probably feel like you are in a catch22 situation.  Unless you plan to start running barefoot, you are probably going to struggle with the heel strike for a while.  There are things you can do to lesson the heel strike affect though.

  1. Get new shoes.  If your shoes are ‘minimalist’ shoes already you are ok – but if you are wearing something like Nike Air (do they even still make these???) with big fat air pocket in the back – PLEASE donate them.  You don’t have to get a true ‘minimalist’ shoe – but make special note of the heel.  If it looks huge – pass.  If you can’t avoid heel striking – it’s probably too big of a heel.
  2. Shorten your stride.  Dont worry about time for a while and focus on getting your form down.  Shorten up your stride so you are turning over your feet more often.  You may feel silly – but they say 3 turnovers per second is ideal for about a 7mph pace.  I feel like I’m doing an old man shuffle sometimes but I always try to keep my stride short and make sure my foot is landing under my center of gravity.
  3. Video yourself running.  Your neighbors may stare – but ignore them.  Set up your video camera the ground or get a friend to video you running. Most software has a slow-motion option so you can slow down the video and watch the way you strike the ground.  If you see your heel hitting first – it’s time to make adjustments.
  4. Practice.  It’s not easy to break a bad habit.  I CONSTANTLY think about my form and have to re-adjust in the middle of the run.  Practice makes perfect and before long it will just be a natural feeling. I’m still working on it – and still heel striking, so it’s not a quick fix.  Just stick with it and keep practicing!!!

And now that you have READ all that (you did read it all right??)  Watch this amazing video by the people at Newton. I love them… I really, really do!!!!

Visit Newton Running to learn more about how to improve your running. If you are curious about Newton Running Shoes The Newton Running Women’s Guidance Trainer is designed for runners of all levels who are committed to Natural Running – whether you follow Chi, Pose, Evolution, barefoot running or just want to run better.

Have I mentioned how much I love mine????  Cause I do ;)

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2 Responses to Striking the Heel Strike

  1. mitt says:

    ironic that the graphic for the webpage shows all three moms running with a heelstrike.

  2. Pam says:

    Cause no one is perfect and it’s a “learned” thing ;) I’m still a heel striker after 4 years of running but I’ve also seen some very effecient heel strikers winning races…. just a suggestion if you want to work on technique. I didn’t say we all had to run that way….. It’s just a form thing, plus I’m not a graphic designer so it’s the best I could do… sheesh ;)

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