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Benefits of a Midfoot Strike in Running

Running Debate: Heel Strike vs. Midfoot vs. Toes

Whether you're new to running or have been running for years, you want to do all you can to prevent foot pain, pulled muscles, shin splints, and runner's knee. Although running may seem like an innate skill we're born with, fine-tuning your technique is essential for avoiding injuries.

Experts may tell you that preventing pain and discomfort is as easy as running "correctly." There's a huge debate if it good to change your gait and exactly what part of your foot should make contact with the ground first: the heel, the midfoot, or the toes (also called forefoot). There are pros and cons to each so to check out how they compare.

Foot Strike Pros Cons
Heel
  • Stretches the calf muscles.
  • Feels natural for many people, especially with cushioned running shoes.
  • Easier to over stride, placing extra stress on the knees and hips, which can lead to injuries.
  • Ankles and knees act as shock absorber on each step.
  • Results in slower-paced running since your heel acts as a brake every time it lands.
Midfoot
  • Good for taking shock absorption out of the joints.
  • Shortens time foot is on the ground, which helps quicken pace.
  • Can feel unnatural for people.
  • Places more stress on Achilles and calf muscle.
Toe
  • Less stress on knees and ankles.
  • Great for running fast.
  • Results in increases up and down motion, which requires more energy.
  • Strains calf muscle and Achilles tendon; may lead to shin splints.

As you can see, there are benefits and disadvantages to all three techniques. If you're noticing pain or discomfort while running, then you may want to pay attention to what part of your foot you land on. The Pose Method and ChiRunning recommend moving away from heel striking and aiming to land more towards the front of the foot; it's the more efficient and leads to fewer injuries. With that said, if you're going to make any changes to your running technique, do so gradually to avoid injury.

Image Source: Shutterstock
Around The Web
Join The Conversation
schar schar 7 years
I always landed on my heels and I currently have a tear in a tendon in my knee, which has sidelined me from running (or wearing heels!) for a couple of months now. When I do ease back into it I am going to try for midfoot...
syako syako 7 years
just went for a run, I think I strike midfoot, which is funny because it's unconscious, and apparently not natural for most. Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. :P
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
According to your chart, there's no debate. Unnatural doesn't count for much if you're "fine-tuning" anyhow. Realistically, though, what feels natural is going to depend on speed.
blondie829 blondie829 7 years
I got serious leg issues running through my heels, so toes it is for me!
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I just run. ... I don't really think about it all that much !
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
I have know idea how I run. guess it's something to check when I get back to the treadmill.
miss-malone miss-malone 7 years
Good to know...
Renee3327 Renee3327 7 years
If I'm running at a sustainable speed, I run with my foot hitting mid-foot. That's what feels natural to me, although it may just be an evolution of my running form from all the miles I clocked in high school track. If I'm doing intervals and running for speed, I usually land on my toes.
hannahc hannahc 7 years
Hahah syako, I love that episode!! I think I'm a heel striker, though I go up to my toes for hills. I'll have to pay closer attention while I run this evening to see what I do!
brookrene brookrene 7 years
good to know. I always thought that i ran weird because i hit the ground with my toes, no way could i land on my heels, that would kill my calves.
Swedeybebe Swedeybebe 7 years
hmm.. good food for thought. thanks!
syako syako 7 years
I don't know why, but this post reminds me of the episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe go running and Phoebe runs all crazily and Rachel gets embarrassed. :D www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_0Ta_DIWuU
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