Focus On Form: Foot Strike

200x200_Jantastic 2015I had planned to do my second Jantastic run yesterday but, as often happens, life got in the way and I had to postpone it until this evening.

The plan was to do my usual 5K route along Hove promenade, taking things nice and slowly once again to make sure that I didn’t over do it before Saturday’s long run. I set off at a deliberately slow pace and decided to focus on my form to avoid the temptation of pushing too hard.

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that my left calf usually feels pretty tight and needs a lot more stretching that the right one after even a short run. I assumed that this was just due to the weakness in my ankle and achilles, but I read an article this week (can’t remember where though, sorry!) about how runners who have a fore foot strike often suffer from calf pain.

Basically, what it said was that while heel striking puts a lot of added pressure on the bones, fore foot striking puts more pressure on the muscles, which can lead to calf strains – which is me down to a tee!

So, I decided to take the advice offered in the article and use this evening’s run to focus on landing mid-foot. The idea is to try to land to the rear of the ball of your foot, with your foot beneath your knee and your toes pointing forward rather than downwards. Sounds complicated, I know! But I gave it a go anyway.

Because I was running so slowly and, determined to master the mid-foot strike, I decided at about 3 kilometres in that Iย would run a bit further than the planned distance. So, instead of turning around at the usual spot that would bring me back to the start at an even 5K, I decided to run to the Lagoon and turn back at the end of the path to bring me back home at a very uneven 6.26 kilometres.

In the end, I didn’t quite master the mid-foot strike and my left calf was still pretty tight, but I did run the whole way without a walk break and logged another nice little run for Jantastic!

Do you think much about your running form? Do you tend to strike the ground with your heel, fore foot or mid foot? Have you found that changing the way your foot lands on the ground has improved your running or helped with preventing injuries? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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10 responses to “Focus On Form: Foot Strike”

  1. JulieOnCloud9 says :

    I’m a neutral mid-footer, but I have one leg longer than the other. I try to think of my form because I’ve had all manner of niggling injuries and my over-tight calves and IT band are usually to blame. Have you looked at Chi Running? I’ve got Danny Dreyer’s book and it makes a great deal of sense. This is his blog http://www.chirunning.com/blog/author/3/Danny%20Dreyer

    • theblogrunner says :

      Thanks Julie. I’ve heard about it but never got round to looking at it properly. Sounds like now might be a good time to do it though. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Running Betty says :

    I took a cho running clinic a couple years ago and it made a huge difference with my running! I used to heel strike and had a lot of knee and calf pain…but now I am a mid to fore foot striker.

  3. artisticsharon says :

    Great run Kirsten! I’ve focused on my form a couple of times in the last year and I ‘think’ I’m a mid-foot striker although it’s really hard to tell when I’m running, lol! I don’t have a long stride, I’m more of a shuffle runner so I think that helps me keep my strike under my knee. When I started to have IT band issues I really paid attention and found that my toes were pointing slightly inward; since then I’ve made sure that my toes were pointing forward and that seems to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • theblogrunner says :

      Thanks Sharon. I agree it’s really hard to tell sometimes. I think I overdid the ‘trying not to heel strike’ and ended up going too much to the fore foot. Still, it’s all part of the learning process. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Here’s to happy shuffling! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Kerrie says :

    I’m pretty concerned about my form. My knee and foot aren’t inline when I run. I’ve noticed a few times and try to correct it. I’d rather be uncomfortable for a few runs and not suffer later on but that said, when I decide not to focus on my form I get a good run done….

  5. PA says :

    Ive tied myself in knots thinking about where my foot strikes the ground. Ive read conflicting reports about whether i should even give it a passing thought too! Some suggest that you shouldn’t mess around with your natural running style for fear of encouraging injury, whereas others suggest heel striking increases the risk of injury. What i think ive done over the years is move from heel striking to mid foot striking, mainly achieved by shortening my stride and trying to take lightnstep, as if running on hot coals. I dont think this has changed my chances of injury, but it makes my running more efficient and therefore easier.

    • theblogrunner says :

      From what I’ve read, that seems to be the case with efficiency. But you’re right, there’s a lot of conflicting reports on this. I think if you’re comfortable and it’s not causing any problems then you have to do what feels right – we’re all different so different things work for different people. Good to hear it helped with your running though. ๐Ÿ™‚

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