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– Welcome to the Triathlon
Training Explain Show, powered by TrainingPeaks. This week, we are looking at how the foot lands when running, breaking down the heel,
mid, and forefoot strike. (upbeat music) You’ve quite likely heard terms such as he’s a forefoot striker, or listen to that heel strike, or look at how she’s definitely landing on her mid foot, and variations of that. Well the way in which our foot lands when running has long been observed and the perfect style is going to be continually debated. – Yeah, now unfortunately we are not going to have any magic answers today as to how you should be running, but what we are going to do in this video is talk about the
different types of styles that we have seen and talk about particularly what’s happening down there at our foot as it strikes the ground and the overall impact that will have on our gait. (melodic electronic music) – There are three different categories of foot strike. The heel strike is, as it sounds, when the runner lands with their heel touching the ground first and the rest of the foot follows through. And as the body weight of the runner moves off, they finish with a toe off at the final phase. – And then we’re moving
on to midfoot strike which is as you’d expect, essentially the initial and predominant forces, the foot landing in the middle and then pushing off. And then finally we’ve
got the forefoot strike, which is essentially
landing right on the ball of your feet with almost no engagement from the remainder of your foot, the midfoot and the heel. – So how do you find out what type of foot striker you are? Well there’s various options. You could get someone to film you, even a friend filming you on the phone in slow motion will give you an idea of how your foot’s landing. Then you can take a look at maybe quite a well worn pair of trainers that will give you a bit of an idea of where the wear is. Then finally, if you are running on an impressionable surface,
like some tacky mud, then you can look at your footprint just to give you a bit of a guide. There are so many factors to consider, both internal and external, and you have to actually
look at them all together. You can’t just look at one and decide that’s how you run and why. Instead, you need to look
at the bigger picture. First up, if you’re a seasoned runner then you’re likely to have spent years training on the track doing speed work and that’s naturally going to encourage a forefoot to midfoot type of running style as that is thought of as the
efficient for going fast. And as a result of this, you’re likely to have the strength to hold an efficient running position, and you’re naturally going to have a bit of a forward lean with that gait. – Now sprinters, when they’re running, will definitely land on their forefoot, whereas when we’re walking, we most almost land with our heels first. And generally, anywhere
in between those speeds we’ll have our foot striking
somewhere on that spectrum. But as a general rule of thumb, the faster we’re going,
the shorter the distance, that’s going to promote
a forefoot landing. Whereas if we’re going
for a longer distance, we’re A, going to be running a bit slower and we’re probably going to be out there for much more time, which is going to be difficult to maintain any sort of forefoot strike. Therefore, that’s going to promote landing on our midfoot, or perhaps
even a heel strike. – Running on different surfaces is automatically going
to change your gait. If any of you have ever
looked at your footprint, say, in sand, compared to
when running on asphalt, well they’re going to
be completely different. The looser and the
softer the surface then, obviously, the naturally
more shock absorption you’re going to get. But you’re also going to lose more energy as your foot moves
through the stance phase. If you’re a heel striker, say, and you go onto hard ground, well you’re going to find
that hard to maintain as there’s very little shock absorption. And naturally if you
move onto a soft surface, then you’re going to find yourself shortening your stride and
leaning further forwards in order to maintain momentum. – Now most foot strike analysis is admittedly done on the fly. If you had an uphill or a downhill, this is significantly going to impact on your biomechanics. Now imagine running up a steep hill and trying to do anything
other than push off on your toes, you’re going to have to have extremely flexible
ankles, achille tendons, and even calf muscles
for that to be possible. Reverse that, and conversely, going down a steep slope, if you aren’t landing on your heels well you’re going to have to be leaning extremely far forward for anything else to be possible. But gentle slopes are
equally going to have an impact too, it’s just more dependent on your own personal foot strike as to whether this has a
larger or a lesser extent whether you’re going up or downhill. – The length of your limbs
and your natural posture will have effect on the way you walk, but that becomes more notable when you move to running. And your weight also,
as the heavier you are, then the more shock that’s
going to be going through your body and your foot’s
going to have to do more of the shock absorption. And it also means your
muscles around your foot will have to work harder, especially if you’re a forefoot or a midfoot runner. – Now the marketplace
these days is full of a wide array of shoe choices. From the ultra barefoot minimalist, right through to the fully
thick cushioned shoes at the other end of the spectrum. But what you choose to wear on your feet will have an impact on your running gait. And ultimately, your foot strength too. – Past and present injuries will also have an effect on your running gait. If say, your example,
you’ve had a bruised heel, then you’ll probably find running on midfoot or forefoot more comfortable. And then on the opposite
end of the spectrum, problems with your calves or achilles, well that will actually make you maybe lean towards a heel strike
or a midfoot strike. And then problems further up the chain, such as tight hamstrings or weak glutes will also effect your gait. (upbeat music) – Now this really is the
million dollar question indeed. What is the perfect foot strike, is the question that has been
debated for decades really. And there really is no one size fits all. You just have to look at
the professional runners on the track to see how
much variation there is and how their foot strikes the surface. So how do you narrow down
what is right for you? – Well you hear coaches
talking about foot contact time being the key to fast running, so the shorter the
contact time the better. Well this is the amount of time that your foot spends on the ground. Now obviously, a midfoot
to forefoot foot striker is going to spent less time on the ground compared to a heel striker. But throughout the race
you’re quite likely to see that contact time increase as the runners start to fatigue. Now a study looking at
recreational marathon runners found that in a certain
portion of athletes there was a massive increase
in the number of runners heel striking at the 32 K point as opposed to when they were
looked at the 10 K point. Which I suppose just proves that it is very demanding
for your average runner to maintain a midfoot or a
forefoot running technique for a long period of time. And it has actually also been proven that the heel strike is
metabolically less demanding on your system, meaning that it’s easier for you to do. – However, that’s then going
to be putting more force through your skeletal
system, so you might say, well you want to move towards a midfoot to reduce this. But then trainers now are more cushioned which can help with that in fact. And actually, quite often, start to encourage more of a heel strike. So I think that just
proves that there really is no perfect foot strike, and it depends on what
natural style of running gait you have, but also what your goals are. – Now by trying to alter our foot strike we really need to start
looking further up the chain at our body position, and
also our stride length too. By creating things like tightness, and poor posture in our running gait, that’s naturally going to
effect what’s happening at ground level. – Well over striding
is usually the cause of excessive heel strike, and this is then going
to increase the force and the jar that’s going
up through your bones and your joints. But also, it’s going to
be acting like a break on every stride. So it’s one thing to say, well just shorten your stride, and get your foot to be landing closer under your body, but this is only possible if you’ve got enough flexibility at the front of your hips so your body can actually move forwards and through and over
your foot in the gait. Now an increase lumbar lordosis for being too upright in posture and having tight hip flexors are all going to contribute
to having an overstride which then really makes you
have a heavy heel strike, so try and address your
hip and your lower back flexibility with mobility exercises and think about increasing
your cadence too. Now we’ve all talked about
having a desirable posture so try and think about
having a line that goes directly from our heads, down to our shoulders, our hips, torsos and into our ankles, and then take that as
a slight forward lean while maintaining a tall posture. And then that will hopefully allow you to bring your foot strike
in closer to your body and then shorten that stride. – And to help with stride length, work on increasing your
cadence, like Frasier said, but also look at trying to
run on different surfaces, as this is naturally
going to cause your foot to be constantly adapting and quite likely to help you start to run a little bit lighter. And then on top of that, think about reducing that amount
of time that you’ve got the contact on the ground. If you think of running soft and smooth, you’ll find that this naturally starts to increase your cadence anyways, but also brings your foot
more underneath your body when it comes to the foot strike. – [Fraiser] Now the running shoe industry has evolved dramatically over the years, it’s safe to say, with
fashions varying widely from having very overly
structured and cushioned shoes, right through to the
barefoot minimalist style of shoe as well. – Well the barefoot
style of running promotes naturally, a forefoot strike, so those shoes don’t need as much support, and they’re also going
to have less cushioning throughout the shoe as well. So if you were a heel striker though and tried to wear, run
in those types of shoes, you would feel a huge a amount of shock coming up through your heel, your knee, and the rest of your
muscular skeletal system as there is nothing to dampen that down. So for that style of running you want to look for a more cushioned shoe with a heel raise that’s going to help naturally promote your style of gait and actually give you that
cushioning you require. – [Frasier] Yeah, now if you
are somewhere in the middle of those two ends of
the spectrum, perhaps, then you could have a look for a shoe that has slightly less heel to toe drop. But, if of course, you want to see a video about how to choose the
correct type of shoe, well we’re going to throw to that at the end of this video. – If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Admittedly, it is easy
to watch your favorite pro running and think oh! I want to run like them, but if you’re currently
running injury free, well make the most of that. And then just concentrate on working on little bits of your form as you go. – Yeah, absolutely. Now hopefully you’ve enjoyed this video we’ve done today, so please hit that thumb up like button. Don’t forget to find the globe on screen and get all of the videos
we make here at GTN. And if you do want to see
that video I talked about about choosing the right
pair of running shoes, well that is here. – And if are interested
in barefoot running and want to know a little
bit more about that, we’ve made a video on that just down here.

Reynold King

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