2

votes

Changing from Heelstriking to Forefoot(running)

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 12, 2010 at 8:43 PM

For 30 years Ive been moving myself around conventionally with heavily padded footwear

I strike with my heel to walk, even jog. Only when I lean into it an run full speed do I shift into forefoot striking

I've shifted to barefoot running and love how it feels, but when I slow down from run to jog or walk, I start heel striking again

I need to know if anyone has overcome this and what I can do to fix it

My personal problem happens with Ultimate Frisbee when start stop jog sprint walk is a constant flux

61ff86be603d2508d10eedb1997b3532

(400)

on February 17, 2011
at 09:51 PM

I also find it much easier to run barefoot than to jog barefoot. I think it boils down to your foot being on the ground longer. I try to take shorter, softer steps like I'm a ninja. Seems to help me anyway.

4310630972b25b6ed4fbd0fe7a7201d0

(840)

on June 13, 2010
at 12:47 AM

Correct. For walking, heel strikes are expected. For jogging, you'll want to fore-/mid-foot strike. It will be more of a shuffle than a leg stretching sprint. Keep your strides short and quick. Shoot for 80 - 90 foot strikes per minute at any pace. To run faster, extend your stride while keeping your strikes/minute steady.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on June 13, 2010
at 12:29 AM

Hmm ok, I'll buy that for walking, but for a jog, inbetween I'm bruising the %#£€ out of my heels

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on June 12, 2010
at 11:23 PM

That just reiterates don't heel strike but not how

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11 Answers

6
36dd8a49324c45fb49a38765000eca1e

(377)

on June 12, 2010
at 11:45 PM

First off, start with the premise of what feels natural when you are relaxed and barefoot. People have become a bit obsessed with the forefoot strike in recent times with the publication of Born to Run. I know I used to be. I used focus on walking only on the balls of feet and ended up with a strained achilles tendon because I thought it was blasphemy to strike with your heels, at any pace. To me, at a walking pace, it feels more natural to fall into a heel-midfoot-ish strike. In the context of running, or even at a slow trot, your body naturally wants you to forefoot strike to absorb the impact of a faster pace, that is, if you are running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.

I can't find the source offhand, but there is a study that shows that humans -walk- more efficiently with a heel strike.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on June 13, 2010
at 12:29 AM

Hmm ok, I'll buy that for walking, but for a jog, inbetween I'm bruising the %#£€ out of my heels

4310630972b25b6ed4fbd0fe7a7201d0

(840)

on June 13, 2010
at 12:47 AM

Correct. For walking, heel strikes are expected. For jogging, you'll want to fore-/mid-foot strike. It will be more of a shuffle than a leg stretching sprint. Keep your strides short and quick. Shoot for 80 - 90 foot strikes per minute at any pace. To run faster, extend your stride while keeping your strikes/minute steady.

3
A3414e929f7c39da2fb07ef3b973bc25

on June 13, 2010
at 09:25 PM

I'm in the same boat. I've been able to run up to several miles in my Vibrams. I think the key is building up slowly. I'm going to try running a mile a day in Vibrams this week. I started today at an indoor track and threw in a few sprints as well. I have to say the sprints felt like a foot and leg massage. Don't run a distance that puts you in pain.

You might want to go barefoot at home too. Over time this will build up muscles.

3
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on June 13, 2010
at 04:21 AM

OMG last month I got Vibrams and it took me some time to adjust. At one point I was playing Ultimate Frisbee and I hurt sooooooo bad. Heel striking + sudden stops = stubbed toes. I had to consciously run on the ball of my foot, almost tippy toe, to fix this. I think I've adjusted to a more normal shuffle stride now because I no longer hurt.

2
D5cde8031564f905260ce9aa7a1f5e2c

on June 12, 2010
at 11:29 PM

Consciously take shorter strides. Tread very lightly - think about kissing the ground with the balls of your feet.

1
40b3175489872ffb33578988afaaf013

on June 13, 2010
at 10:45 PM

I eliminated heel striking on standard shoes after reading chi-running 2 years ago... Did it because I had to run 21k race and I had 1 month to prepare myself, so I tried the hack the situation through ???technique??? over ???fitness???. Fortunately it worked our pretty good (1:49). I???m not a slim guy (93kg and 1.76cms) so in that race I learned that running with lycras is a good idea for people with big legs. 3 months ago I started using with Vibram Fingers KSO, beautiful shoes. First time I ran 20 minutes without any problems at all, second time I did it for more than an hour at my regular pace happily, currently I do 15k smiling. I plan to do Buenos Aires Marathon in October with Vibram Fingers or Huaraches... hope things will go fine. (I must get slimmer although and get milage) When walking barefoot on hard surfaces I usually have the same problem, only when I do a super short stride I feel heels contact is soft. Cheers

0
Medium avatar

on January 16, 2012
at 02:56 AM

What got me interested in the contemporary debate about how to strike the ground when running, was the popularity of Danny Dreyer's ChiRunning method. I bought the book and CD and played around with the basic physical adjustments. I liked the results so put down money for a pair of New Balance 800 MF trainer running shoes, designed with the help of Danny Dreyer for those transitioning to a midfoot running gait. Looking back, this is how I made the transition to midfoot strike. However, I must add: it happened more or less naturally, as a result of wearing shoes designed to foster midfoot strike. That is, my transition didn't require a lot of conscious mental attention to proper form; my body more or less fell into line, as it were.

Thus, when I later transitioned to Vibram toe shoes, the transition was complete. I didn't have to practice getting form right, nor did I have to run only very short runs at first. It simply felt good to turn my feet over more quickly than in heal-strike shoes. I found my center of gravity and stayed with it. The main advice I would offer is not to worry a lot about getting form right. Put on a pair of Vibrams and walk in them, then run in them. Sure, it may help to bear in mind some of the basics: like not bending forward at waist, but rather keeping rather straight posture. Likewise, practice shortening your stride so that your feet don't get far out ahead. Stay relaxed and be a happy ambulatory mammal.

I will add that I no longer run marathons or long distances per se. Not because of injury but rather I simply got tired of all the mileage. I feel better running less, such as doing one or two HIIT sessions per week: intensity above distance. I point this out by way of indicating I am not in a position to vouch for Vibrams for distance training. I know runners who have success wearing Vibrams for distance work, and I know it can be done.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 16, 2012
at 01:51 AM

If you heel strike you heel strike. There isn't much you can do but train yourself into midfoot striking (which is what all pro athletes do). I would recommend buying a solid pair of running shoes that are designed for heel strikers. Hit up a local specialist running store and talk to somebody. Minimalist shoes are OK but if your a heavy build I wouldn't recommend them. Or if your trying to run fast. We weren't designed to run on tarmac and concrete. Good Luck!

0
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on June 15, 2010
at 05:34 PM

An interesting link on walking here:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-02/uou-tco020310.php

I've done some very primitive research: looking on youtube for hunter-gatherers (or other barefoot people) and watching how they move. And sure, if you find footage where they run, it is mid/forefoot strike. But I've never met footage of people walking with forefoot strike. Nor have I ever seen somebody do it when I was travelling in Africa (mainly youngsters though).

Agian, this is 'primitive' research, but the link above seems to support it.

What I have noticed however, is the 'grace' (for lack of a better word) people walk with. And they tend to walk a narrow path.

An extra tip for jogging: keep tall, but lean forward from the hips. Imagine someone holding a hand on your chest and you try to push gently into him. Keep this in mind wile running.

0
D251185e140e7f3d8df603a08fdbeabd

on June 13, 2010
at 07:48 PM

Adding to some of the recommendations here, I read somewhere to try to focus on keeping toes/feet flexed up. It seems to work OK for me.

0
5472f6c94387c7fc82a04da4885363b0

(353)

on June 13, 2010
at 05:00 PM

Really it amounts to just being more consience of your movement. Go truly barefoot (no minimalist footwear) to maximize the ground to foot feedback. Shorten your stride and focus on bringing your knees up higher than you used to when you wore shoes. Also don't worry about keeping your heal off the ground or landing only on your forefoot, think of your forefoot landing a split second before your heal. Eventually it will turn into almost a flat foot landing. I read on one of the barefoot sites that a good thought is when your foot is coming down imagine that you had tiny afterburners on your heal that are firing, keeping it from landing hard...worked for me, although maybe that sounds weird.

0
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on June 12, 2010
at 11:23 PM

That just reiterates don't heel strike but not how

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