The latest trend in running appears to be forefoot or midfoot running and if you’ve been reading running related material you have probably come across this concept before.
What is forefoot running?
Forefoot running essentially means that instead of landing with your heel first when you strike the ground, you land with your toes or the toes and ball of the foot first.
Why would I do that?
Some of the research suggests that people that land on their mid or forefoot generate less initial impact forces that those that land on the heel. This could mean less chance of injury.
A forefoot running style is also considered to be more efficient meaning that you will use up less energy in running the same distance. Or with the same amount of energy run the same distance faster. This is because landing with the heel first tends to slow down your forward momentum whereas running with a forefoot pattern helps you to keep that forwards momentum.
How do I do that?
It takes a little bit of time and effort to change your running style. Part of this is retraining your muscles, and a large part is retraining your brain! The aim of a forefoot running style is to have more of a forwards lean through your trunk and less of a stride forward. Your feet should be making contact with the ground almost directly under your body rather than out in front of you.
What are the risks of changing your running style?
Forefoot running is not for everybody, but if you are experiencing problems with running, it may be something to consider.
It is also not advisable to suddenly make a switch in your running style. This change needs to be slowly brought in to allow time for you muscles and tendons to adapt to the new demands on particular areas. It may take 4-6 months to make a successful transition. But if it improves your time and reduces injuries, then it is worth the wait.
At myPhysioSA we can help you to make that transition a lot smoother by analysing your gait, giving you pointers on how to change your running style, incorporating exercises to help strengthen and stretch out the right areas and provide any soft tissue treatment if it’s required, and help you get back to pain free running sooner!!
Joshua Stewart, myPhysioSA Associate Physiotherapist