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On the First Day of Christmas My Run Coach Taught to Me…

Welcome to our holiday gift to you:
Twelve Days of Healthy Running Tips

 1st Day of Healthy Running Tips

On the first day of Christmas
my run coach taught to me:
A proper foot strike…

Most life-long runners we meet and work with agree that it makes complete sense that landing on the ball of your foot (forefoot) vs. the heel of your foot while running produces less impact on your bones and joints.

They even agree that there is anecdotal evidence that forefoot striking can help avoid and/or mitigate repetitive stress injuries, especially stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and runner's knee. However, more times than not we disagree on one thing… that they are actually striking on the forefoot when they run!

Forefoot Striking Reduces Injuries

That's right, most runners believe they are landing on the ball of their foot. That is until we show them the slow-motion video of their run analysis and prove to them that they're actually heel-striking. Somehow, their brains are telling them one thing while their body is doing something entirely different. 

Patrick: This reminds me of watching a video of my first high school dance… I was dancing the "Wild Thang" (the equivalent to the "Dougy" for you youngsters) and I KNEW I was killing it - middle name was SMOOTH. I was impressing EVERYONE with my moves…. Then a few days later I saw the video… I REALLY looked like the Tin Man trying to stomp on a mouse - the only thing impressive was that not one of those "stomps" was to the beat of the music. Lesson learned: there is a difference between what we THINK we look like vs what we ACTUALLY look like.

Tips on ensuring a proper forefoot strike

  • A forefoot landing should feel gentle and relaxed. Start your run off with a few minutes of running in place. In this way, you'll naturally land on the ball of your foot - get used to how this feels. After the front of your foot lands, let the heel down gradually, bringing the foot and lower leg to a gentle and quiet landing. Make sure your heel is "kissing the ground" slightly so you engage the springiness of your arch and you aren't working the calves too much.
  • Be mindful of over-striding. Your foot should be landing on the ground beneath your hips. If you peek down at your feet while you're running and you can see more than the tips of your toes - it means that you're allowing your foot to move past your knee (think of a vertical line from the front of your knee to the ground) - if this is happening, you're probably landing on your heels.
  • A good way to tell if you are landing properly is to run totally barefoot on a grassy area like a soccer field (not a hard surface like pavement). Your feet will quickly tell you if you are landing too hard and you'll most likely automatically land on your forefoot since this is the most natural way of using your body to absorb impact.
  • Lastly, if you have access to a treadmill and a mirror, peek over at the mirror when you've been running for a good period of time and try to catch yourself landing in the normal way you run. Some reformed heel-strikers will often revert back to bad habits once they settle into their run. This will allow you to "check yourself" and "correct yourself" when you need to.

We hope these tips serve you well in your quest to become a healthier, lifelong runner! Stay tuned for more TIPS TOMORROW and we wish everyone happy holidays!! 

Keep on Running!

Julia, Patrick & Jo-Jo

Pose, RRCA, USAT and ITCA Certified Coaches


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