Forefoot Running May Be Better at Preventing Impact-Related Injury Than Heel Strike Running
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When it comes to preventing impact-related
injury in heel strike runners, and remember that all–around impact levels are often
measurably much more intensive in heel strike running than in forefoot strike running which
is why impact-related injuries, like long bone injuries, such as shin bone and femur
fractures are more prevalent in heel strike runners than in forefoot strike runners, heel
strike runners have to rely on running shoes with enormously thick under-heel padding to
make heel striking feel comfortable because without the under-heel padding, the heavy
impacts and loading generated at heel strike during running will hurt and will damage the
heel pad. Also, another mechanical risk factor brought-about
when heel striking during running is that the feet may undergo excessive abnormal pronation
(which means abnormal foot motions) during the touchdown and stance phases of running. This is because, according to some studies
which are linked below the video in the description box, the landing configuration of the foot
in heel strike running coupled with the prolonged ground-contact time duration period the foot
on the ground may cause the heel to spend greater time in an extreme everted position
during stance which means the heel shifts outward away from the midline causing the
Achilles tendon to bow inwards towards the midline which may project heavy bending and
torsional stain on the Achilles tendon. Additionally, during the heel-to-toe-rollover
in heel strike running, the arch may collapse as the fully body weight and the center of
pressure passes over from heel to toe which may influence excessive toe-out which may
over-strain the midfoot, and collectively, this is how heel strike running maycreate
foot mechanics that may work against you and all this wrestling the foot does with the
ground in heel strike running may put additional loading across the legs muscles, tendons and
bones, but can also make bad mechanics even worse, which can be more stressful on the
body. Its for these reasons that many heel strike
runners are often prescribed motion control, stability running shoes that are of course
thickly padded under the heel. So just to talk more specifically about why
heel strike runners need very thick under-heel padding is that one consistent consequence
of heel strike running is it produces a specific impact force called the ‘spontaneous impact
transient peak’ which is produced at heel strike. Why does this heel strike running-specific
force get produced in the first place? It gets produced at heel strike during running
because the weight of the body is often far behind the initial foot strike position, so
there’s a large distance separation between initial foot strike position at heel strike
and the upper body. This distance separation between the upper
body, or the body weight and initial foot strike position at the heel ends up generating
a prolonged, more intensive brake or deceleration force because the weight of the body comes
to a dead stop for a longer period of time as compared with a forefoot strike landing
when running which i’ll talk more about in just a moment. Related research has also found that heel
strike running also produces other impact variables in excess, such as tibial, or shin,
accelerations and tibial shock which are leading causes of shin fracture as compared with forefoot
running which does not produce a spontaneous impact transient peak and tibial accelerations
and tibial shock are significantly lower. As I was saying, as a result of all these
net forces coupled with an increased risk of foot overpronation, it’s been said that
thickly cushioned, motion control stability running can play a crucial role in helping
heel strike runners avoid injuries. However, there are a lot of evidence against
this. For instance, a 2006 study published in the
American Journal of Sports Medicine found that heavily cushioned, stability running
shoes did not reduce tibial acceleration and tibial shock in heel strike runners. Results from a 2019 study in the Journal of
Physics also revealed that increased underfoot cushioning via insoles did not reduce the
spontaneous impact transient force in heel strike runners, rather the insoles significantly
increased this force and push-off peak forces as well! These results are in line with additional
data from a 2009 study in the International Journal of Exercise Science (the links to
the studies are below the video in the description box) which showed that increases in underfoot
cushioning with insoles did not attenuate shock or reduce loading rate during. Even worse, similar findings have been reported
on insoles during accelerated running, meaning that increased underfoot protection may amplify
certain impact force variables with increased running velocity. This data trend suggests that thickly cushioned,
motion control, stability running shoes may offer little potential for a positive change
when it comes to helping prevent impact-related injury in heel strike runners. But these findings also play a role in helping
us decide which foot strike pattern is relevant to potentially helping prevent impact-related
injury. For instance, in recent years, many several
compelling studies have emerged showing that those who switched from heel strike running
to forefoot strike running had the largest improvements in a reduction in net forces
on the heels, shins and knees, suggesting that when it comes to preventing certain forms
of running-related injuries, namely, impact-related injuries, to be on the safe side, adopting
the forefoot running technique may have more positive pronounced effects on making it easier
to handle faster running velocities and greater running mileage with reduced injury risk,
rather than always relying on thickly cushioning running shoes loaded with stability constructs
as these shoes don’t always prevent enough mechanical factors from going wrong or reduce
all the impact. However, the mechanics involved in forefoot
running have proved consistently effective in reducing impact at the heels, shins and
knees and reduces loading across the long bones, like the tibia or shin and femur. This is because when you land with a forefoot
strike when running, not only does abnormal foot motions, that is hyper or over-pronation,
get strongly restrained, there are significantly less overall opposing forces at work on the
leg as compared with heel strike running. The main reason for these large improvements
in impact reductions in forefoot running is that foot-ground contact-time is significantly
reduced, meaning that the foot spends less time lingering on the ground, leaving less
time for abnormal foot motions and postures to take hold. The foot’s positioning also improves at
touchdown in forefoot running such that the foot naturally tends to land closer to your
center of mass, which is your upper body, resulting in a much less brute collision force
and a much shorter deceleration or brake force period which is really going to unburnen the
shins and knees. Last but not least, the movement path of the
foot at touchdown in forefoot running allows the foot to slide more smoothly down onto
the ground, not crash onto the ground with an intensive jarring-force, like in a heel
strike landing. This is why when it comes to correcting abnormal
movement impairments of the foot, like over-or-hyperpronation as well as avoidance of damaging impacts,
not all forms of impacts are damaging, but the ones produced in heel strike running seem
to more damaging on the heels, shins and knees, than in forefoot running; this is why adopting
the forefoot running technique can really tip the balance in favor over heel strike
running in stability running shoes with thickly padded heels. And in keeping with how forefoot running may
do a better job at protecting you from impact-related injury than heel strike running is that the
shins may be more protected by the low-impact mechanical outputs that are naturally assembled
when you run with a forefoot strike. Related research has indicated that decreases
in both stride length and ground-contact time in forefoot running not only eliminated the
spontaneous impact transient force, but abolished maximum leg extension at touchdown, which
means the knee of the landing foot was slightly bent and flexed, not stiff and unbent
whereby this increased knee bending and flexion directly reduced eccentric activity of the
tibialis anterior (or the front of the shin) and reduced tibial acceleration which in turn
dramatically reduced compartment pressure of the lower leg. All this means is that the shins avoided excessive
abnormal loading and shear stress in forefoot running because forefoot running improved
knee mechanics by directly prompting the knee to slightly and softly flex and bend when
the forefoot strikes the ground. So of significance, when you land with a forefoot
strike when running, your knee tends to bend which is what its supposed to do because it’s
a joint and joints bend, that’s a big part of what they do, and when the knee of the
landing foot is bent at touchdown, can really soften the blow and it may also influence
the elastic structures in the lower leg to operate at the level of better spring efficiency. These decreases in impacts in forefoot running
are strongly associated with a reduced risk of lower leg pain and shin fracture, and the
decreases in these stride parameters (i.e. reduced stride length and reduced ground-contact
time of the foot) that allows for stark reductions in net impact forces on the shins during running
are consistently engaged by running with a forefoot strike, not a heel strike.This is
also fundamentally why forefoot running may have a greater positive influence on reliably
reducing harmful impacts and therefore improving injury prevention outcomes versus increasing
underfoot protection while maintaining a heel strike running style. So,I just wanted to elaborate more on exactly
how forefoot running may fit more nicely into the role of injury prevention, especially
when it comes to having an outsized influence on reducing the risk of impact-related injury. To get a more clear-eyed view on what a proper
forefoot strike looks like, I’ve linked 2 videos down below this video in the description
box that shows the proper movement path of the foot in a forefoot strike landing. I hope you’ve enjoyed this video. If you did, feel free to hit the thumbs up
button as well as the subscribe button, if you haven’t already where you’ll get more
informed on forefoot running vs heel strike running as well as the importance of incorporating
more barefoot running into your overall training regiment, and of course you can support Run
Forefoot through PayPal as well which is also linked down below the video in the description
box. Thank you so much for listening and watching. Have fun out there on the roads and trails. Bye for now!

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