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What Is Good Foot Strike?

Wanna Run Faster and Longer? Forget Everything You Think You Know About Foot Strike

Whether you're trying to fit in some extra cardio or you're training for a half marathon, there are all sorts of good reasons to make running a regular part of your fitness routine. Technique may not be the first that comes to mind when you step outside for a jog — you're probably thinking about distance and speed — but you won't get the results you want unless your feet are hitting the ground correctly with every stride.

I spoke with Michael Olzinski, MSc, purplepatch endurance coach and Equinox run coach, who laid out the basics of foot strike, which we should all know before we lace up our running shoes.

"I think foot strike is truly like a fingerprint," Mike told POPSUGAR. "Everyone has something different, and while there are definitely techniques to reduce risk of injury, it can be tough to dramatically change foot strike." You might be rejoicing at the fact that there's nothing inherently wrong with your foot strike, but whether you're a "heel striker" or a "toe runner," it pays to take a closer look at the way you run.

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Mike said the most crucial thing to think about is how and where your foot hits the ground when you're running. Your feet should "generally make contact with the ground directly below your hips, not too far in front or too far behind," according to Mike. "This way the forces will travel up to your hips and torso, which is what you want to be powerful and injury-free while you run," he continued.

If your feet are landing too far in front of your hips — Mike refers to that as "reaching too much" with your feet — this can cause your lower legs and knees to absorb far too much force, which can lead to injury. This is "the most common (and also most corrosive) mistake" Mike sees.

You may be shrugging this off as you read this, especially if you're not training for a big race. But whether you're running to lose weight or simply improve your cardiovascular health, your form matters. The better your foot strike is, the longer and faster you'll be able to run — and that's when you'll see real results.

Here are two extra tips from Mike:

  • "Imagine that you had a small hula-hoop and it followed the ground just below your hips while you run. You would always want your feet landing in that hula-hoop. A great exercise to train that feeling is simply the jump rope, and then trying to run nice and easy while jumping rope!"
  • "One tip I always give runners is to imagine running on the beach in sand. If you are reaching too much, you will see the sand shooting forwards when your feet strike the ground. Instead, try to visualize the sand only going into the ground or backwards behind you, never in front."
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Ericka McConnell
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