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running - heals or balls of the feet?


who does what. heal or ball runners?



  • husslerhussler Posts: 237
    Heel on the flat, ball on hills.......

    Im a 1:22 half marathon runner too:) so just because I run on heel doesnt make me slow.....its just how I run and I have tried before to change my style of running but I ended up injured :(
  • Cheryl6162Cheryl6162 Posts: 356
    I used to be toe but I ruptured my Achilles tendon last year and when I started running again I found I was running flat footed to 'protect' my tendon from taking any strain. It seems that I have progressed to being a heel striker now and I am trying to train my muscles to go back to ball striking but it's not easy as the injury also tore my gastroc and soleus muscles which knitted up wrong leaving a fair gap of muscle in my right calf.

    I know I run faster off the balls of my feet but wonder if the risk of injury to that weak calf is worth it or if I should just accept what i have now become with my running style and play safe

  • julesojuleso Posts: 279
    I run on my heels. I was banned from running on my midfoot by a physio who said I'd injure myself if I continued to do it. All those months of adjusting to midfoot running went down the drain! But the physio knows best.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    i tend to be heel, but aim to be more midfoot (when very tired i revert to midfoot for some reason). on hills 9up and down) i go more forefoot, unless it's very steep down and then it is heel all the way
  • BlurredgirlBlurredgirl Posts: 292
    Midfoot - currently benefiting in all sorts of ways from my prize-win Newtons.

  • Sorry to offer another physio suggestion - but personally and from the evidence-base midfoot is supposed to be "best".

    Caveats to that include - NOT if you have been a heel-striker your whole life - changing to midfoot will KILL your legs! Which makes for good physio advice for the right people.

    Did anyone check out the picture at the beginning of the story about the Tarahumara runners - look at the foot positions of the two runners. Western = heelstrike, Tarahumara (best long distance runners in the world) = toes down. that is not by accident.

    Consider a runner in side view. If he/she lands on their heel, chances are their foot/toes are in front of their centre of mass and the impact will produce a force directed behind them, ie it will be a braking force. If the landing point is under the centre of mass (midfoot landing), less braking will be applied and the net result is a smoother "ride".

    Although this stuff is my job to know, I have some hands-on experience too. I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago, and tho I am a heel striker (do as I say not as I do I am afraid), it just hurt my back on every step to go running. I changed to midfoot - by increasing my cadence significantly (as per the chat from that same 220 article), and hey presto I can now run with no back pain, as there is less shock running up my body. I have increased speed in the same fell swoop too. Bargainous!!

    So the scientific answer may be midfoot - but best advice is if it aint broke dont fix it! I reckon maybe try it in the off season to see how it works for you - but drop the mileage, in fact think of it like a new sport. Do NOT "try" it out on a 10 mile jaunt. Chances are you will regret it.

    Hope that all made sense.

  • WannabetriWannabetri Posts: 219
    Neither! Am a midfoot striker (apparently), although I've never understood the actual physiology of it. How can you land in the midfoot? Surely that would be flat-footed?

    And by not practicing fore-foot I can pretty much only run one speed, and it ain't quick.....[:D]
  • BlurredgirlBlurredgirl Posts: 292
    I should have added - although a natural midfoot striker - I'm a really rubbish runner. Can't do 5km in race conditions in less than 29mins.

    I know, I know, increase cadence, do the fartlek thing, get coaching. It'll all come togther. Just needs shed-loads of work.

  • Im a ball runner, prob why my knees are goosed...
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Conehead wrote:

    5 to 10km on the forefoot.  Half marathon and beyond, heel.

    haile gabrselassie?

    To all you heel strikers out there I would like you to go out into your gardens or find a nice field, take your shoes and socks off and have a quick run. I promise you you will not heel strike! We were never meant to run with a heel strike, our ancestors without shoes would have been forefoot runners as without a padded heel the shock is too great.

  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 335
    . what's happened to Conehead - spots increasing

    forefoot - since changing from heel striking achilles pain all gone[:D]
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    ok ok, I was only quoting your comment on 5/10k forefoot striking half marathon+ heel striking as it sounded as if you were recommending this, which I thought was wrong. Not that this is what you do. So fair enough on that side.

    I wasn't directing my next statement at you as I'm sure you know everything about forefoot running vs heel striking as your a coach, you get paid to know this and you really don't need to name drop we all know that you are a good coach and know your stuff

    Now whilst as you say conehead changing over to forefoot running poses its own list of problems, it has been shown to reduce the shock within the knee. Yes you are a risk of achilles/calf etc. problems, but damage a meniscus and its not great news in the long term as even with surgery they are never going to be 100% but damage your calf muscle and you will get over it with time.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    but damage a meniscus and its not great news in the long term as even with surgery they are never going to be 100%


  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    sorry mate, its not as bad as i made it sound.

    I have a torn meniscus in my left knee, it occasionally causes me trouble but as its in the posterior section its only when my knee is fully bent, so I doesn't tend to cause me much of a problem.

    What I meant to say is that its not going to repair itself, the meniscus is unfortunately a mostly avascular structure, with only the outer edges receiving an adequate supply of nutrition, but as its cartilage it doesn't matter so much.

    Once you have had the bit thats bothering you resected you should be fine, I doubt you will ever had any problems with it, but as i say its still not going to be 100%.

    That said my argument that I would rather calf muscle damage is completely blown out of the water by the fact that muscle never repairs completely either! oh well, back to the books.
  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Had Gait analysis done the other week and confirmed I am a mid to forefoot runner - more mid than forefoot but the analysis was good and I have a pretty good running gait apparantly, just a shame I can't run fast ;).
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    I've been coached out of heel striking since January, I wouldn't go back to it!

    For a few weeks I had sore calves but no problems since <touches wood>.

    I didn't have much previous running experience though, it's not as if I'd had years and years and miles and and miles of ingrained technique to change.
  • MrSquishyMrSquishy Posts: 277
    Out of interest Jules, how?

    And was it simples?!
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    It was a bit weird initially. It involved standing more upright and lifting up my leg vertically and allowing myself to fall forward into a stride rather than reaching for the next stride and landing on my heel.
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