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Are you running properly?

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Running Foot Placement

For most people, running barefoot hasn’t seemed desirable since around the age of 5 but most avid runners (and anthropologists) will tell you that the foot placement that you have when you run around without shoes on is the most natural and healthy way to run. You will find that instead of taking the full force of our lunging body with the heal or a flat foot you will be inclined to spring from the balls of your toes instead. There are many benefits to running on the balls of the feet instead of stepping heal to toe; first and foremost it will relieve a huge amount of impact pressure from the knees, hips, and lower back. Because of this running longer distances will come more naturally and will be accompanied by much less pain while working and you won’t experience the same joint pain the next day.

The heel-strike gait is a product of the advent of soft comfortable sneakers with highly padded heals and shock absorption. Many people started to wear these in order to release pressure from on the knees and lower back but many doctors are now shying away from prescribing these highly padded shoes for every day use because they can potentially weaken the corrective musculature thus worsening the problem. Some doctors have started prescribing going periods with no shoes on in order to correct sore knees and hips by strengthening your evolved musculature.

If you study the anatomy of the lower limbs of the fastest mammals on earth (look at dogs, cats, cheetahs, lions, etc.), you will see that the joint in their legs we would think of as their knees are actually more equivalent to our own ankles and in fact their paws are homologous to our own toes. This means that those animals run by bounding on the balls of their toes and can reach such incredible speeds because of the tendons that run down what would be the sole of our feet. These tendons are incredibly strong and the energy that they can build and release is more suited to running than that of our calfs. For sprinting the toe-strike foot placement will help to force your body into a chest forward position such that the thrust produced by your feet propels your entire body forward instead or landing with the feet leading, dragging the body behind. This body position will decrease drag thus increasing speed and reducing effort.

Starting to run this way will take a bit of practice and may not come naturally. After a few minutes the tendons of your arch will be sore but by slowly integrating the toe-strike running style, these tendons will strengthen and you will begin to see improvements in your speed as well as in your joints. Incorporating new technique will always be challenging but it will always pay out in the end!

As always feel free to reach out with any questions.

Stay Healthy,

Jamie@crossfitkmk.com