Runners: don't land on your heels

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Marius_Hancu, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Marius_Hancu

    Marius_Hancu G.O.A.T.

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  2. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    This is why I keep most of my running on the stairs.
     
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  3. mike53

    mike53 Professional

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    Yeah. I remember back in the 70's. As soon as Nikes showed up on people's feet, all the distance runners started getting foot injuries.
     
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  4. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    very interesting, I have always wonder about this. thanks for sharing it.
     
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  5. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    "The research was funded in part by a company that makes minimalist running shoes that try to mimic barefoot running."
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100127/...refoot_running

    I think I will continue to take my chances by wearing cushioned shoes to protect my feet.

    I think almost everyone would be better off, as well, wearing good shoes with good arch support from properly fitting replacement soles or orthotics (if needed).

    That being said, tennis players take a pounding on hard courts, and run the risk of doing too much running. Cross training on a bike, stairstepper, cross country skiing and P90X-like cardiovasclar workouts are other alternatives. And doing more sprint, and change of direction work will probably get you into better shape for tennis than just long distance miles.
     
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  6. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I always do some stair running as part of my winter workouts. I think it one interesting way of combining a bit of plyometrics with interval training. The stairs take a little of the pounding away from your knees, as there is somewhat less coming down than jumping on level ground.
     
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  7. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    Yeah. I'm hooked. Forty minutes of hell 2.0 for me. And I love it.
     
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  8. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    It's painful to even watch a "heel striker" run.

    I've always been a "balls of your feet" kind of a guy.

    And I could never stand the fancy shoes with the thick airsoles / cushioning / pronation or supination support. Those are the shoes that hurt my feet. I prefer what is now called a "lightweight trainer".

    http://www.runningshoes.com/running...oductFeatureId=10096/~productCategoryId=10000

    On the indoor track, I actually do run barefoot sometimes (though it is against the track rules). I don't find it more comfortable than wearing shoes however.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2010
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  9. Talker

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    This makes sense, evolution has so many trials (experiments through mutations) to get things right.
     
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  10. EikelBeiter

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  11. chess9

    chess9 Hall of Fame

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    Truth is, runners are all over the map, foot strike wise. I was a heel striker when I ran track in high school. When I started doing triathlons I went to shorter strides with a mid-foot strike. I've tried the Pose Method, and don't care for it.

    More research is needed, IMHO.

    -Robert
     
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  12. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I ran and raced barefoot in my first year. Road runs were using flat shoes (canvas shoes), no high heel no instep protection etc. I had no injuries.

    Then i got my first pair of "running shoes" with a raise heel and all kinds of stuff to prevent injuries. And my injuries started. and got worse each year with more expensive and fancy shoes.
    After several years (80's), i figured out that all the padding and heel raise was weakening the legs (reducing the flexibility) and began running barefoot on grass everyday. (Road runs still with cushioned shoes). I sometimes raced barefoot on roads with some tape tied on toes.
    I could train 100 miles per week with no injuries.

    (I also found that static stretching such as leaning against the wall used to cause severe problems to my calf. So that was out).

    I also remember then reading a quote by a sprinter Calvin Smith - to run quietly like a cat - even tho i was into middle and long distances, i applied that and ensured my foot strike even with shoes was soft and silent.
     
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  13. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    Also, shorter but quicker strides not only reduces injury but actually makes you run a lot faster over distances (5000m and up).
    It takes a few months getting used to but was worth it. Long strides increases impact.
     
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  14. EikelBeiter

    EikelBeiter Professional

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  15. albino smurf

    albino smurf Professional

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    Really interesting to think about the shoes promoting injury through the means that are designed to prevent it. Would a flat sole be a good way to go?
     
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  16. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    If you sprint you won't heel strike - assuming you are sprinting correctly. So I advise to run faster and stop all the jogging.

    In the first video of Haile, you can definitely see that he is not heel striking as he runs. In some of the frames it seems his foot lands flat and in others you can see that the heel almost doesn't touch.
     
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  17. Sentinel

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    I would say without reservation, yes. But you have to try it out slowly since your legs are used to support in shoes.

    I slowly began after a long layoff, and increased. In the first month or two i was just running on grass barefoot or in canvas shoes (abso flat, no support in instep or heel).

    Even when i did road runs in my proper running shoes, i came back and jogged barefoot /flat shoes on a soft surface.

    Prior to doing track work in spikes, I did my warmup in flat shoes on the grass track around.

    I can also attest that road running barefoot was fine.

    I could be wrong, but i think Zola Budd's injuries began after she began using running shoes. The logic here is that running shoes give support to various parts of the legs, such as knees, calf muscles. This support reduces the flexibility (-- and in my case, static stretching of the calf caused strain.). So this was the only way out.

    Running barefoot or in flat shoes -- no support, so the knee and calf get a "real" stretch while running.

    When Haile's foot impacts the ground it could appear like the heel is going to touch, but actually his body has come over the foot by then, so its ahead of the heel. I have not seen the vids today, but i may have observed it carefully on film many many years ago.

    BTW, in the years I was running in running shoes I had severe calf problems - i could not complete races, and then the calf would pain for a week, i could barely walk. I could not even run intervals without getting severe pain/strain.
     
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  18. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    I agree with these ideas.

    I really like the Calvin Smith quote. That is how I tried to run. Quiet. Simple. Soft. Not fighting my body. Trying to let the run "flow".
     
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  19. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    I have tender and poorly designed feet, so I feel the need for shoes except maybe running on a beach (which I don't get to do much, more's the pity.) I like the idea soft footstrikes and I think that for distance running you can do this with the heel coming down first and rolling the rest of the foot down, I don't think a heel strike has to be (or should be) brutal.
     
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  20. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    I sometimes also land on my face when I'm running if I don't warm up correctly.
     
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  21. rosewall4ever

    rosewall4ever Semi-Pro

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  22. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    The barefoot/minimalist shoe vs conventional running shoe argument is like the lighter racquet vs heavier racquet debate on these forums.

    Surely, like w racquets, a good deal of the "technology" in modern running shoes is useless marketing crape designed to sell shoes.

    But as long as you aren't getting injured using whatever type of shoes you are currently using, then you should probably just stick with it.

    I'm currently heading in the direction of more minimally cushioned shoes. But that's in part because I am doing more running on a track these days and I find myself often tripping and falling while using traditionally cushioned running shoes.
     
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  23. athiker

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    Interesting stuff.

    Uhmm...I do have plantar fasciitis in my right heel. He's saying I shouldn't switch?...only those that do not have foot injuries?...seems like I should switch to me!

    EDIT: A neighbor of my grandmother's runs ultra-marathons with some success; she says he does a lot of his training barefoot. His wife works for a running magazine. Things are starting to make some sense.

    Thanks for the Gordon Pirie link. I downloaded the book .pdf.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2010
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  24. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    Based on the the little that I've read, anyone should transition to minimally cushioned shoes slowly or in stages if they decide to try it. If not you run the risk of achilles strains and other injuries. This is probably especially true for heavier people.
     
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  25. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    How we take for granted the miracle of life.

    The foot and ankle is just one such area.

    In each foot/ankle are 18 bones, interlocking together in a three dimentional puzzle, held in place by scores of ligaments and moved by everything from major muscles acting from afar by thin tendons to tiny locally acting muscles.

    All the little bones are moving against each other, with stress on the bones, tendons and ligaments with each step.

    There is plenty to go wrong as we run on this complex moving mass of small bones, transmitting forces several times our own body weight with each stride.

    Everyone's foot is different, with diffent diameters and circumfrences at the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot.

    We try to force our feet into shoes grossly oversimplified in sizing into just length and width.

    It is a miracle more don't have serious foot and ankle problems from running. It is much more a mystery that so few do have problems.

    And while some may have such biomechanically sound feet and body type/weight that they don't need any extra cushioning or support from properly fitting shoes and insoles (ah, there's the rub), they are definitely in the minority.

    And some have such biomechanically flawed feet that they are doomed to problems from the forces of running, no matter what type of correction is tried.
     
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  26. jswinf

    jswinf Professional

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    Lyrical post, thanks.
     
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  27. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    Yes this is correct. I have run a couple marathons and I now do triathlons. I have experienced some injuries thanks to my anatomy that ultimately ended my D1 soccer scholarship.

    There are tons of articles supporting running on your toes, midfoot, or heels. And tons of articles supporting using high support, low support, or barefoot running. None of it is conclusive. Many use examples of african / mexican tribal runners to exemplefy what the "best" way to run is. That however isn't a good comparison because of evolution many of us have different anatomies.

    Lately heel running has gotten a bad rap. It is true that you put a lot of stress on your bones when you land on your heel. This is obvious as the shockwave is sent right up your leg bones possibly causing stress fractures.

    Midfoot running however has its own set of problems. While it is less stress on your bones, it is more stressfull on your muscles / tendons. This is obvious if you have never done it before. After your first toe or midfoot run you calves will be pretty sore the next day even if you are an experienced runner. Often times tendon / muscle damage is worse than an actual stress fracture.

    Last olympics in china there was a article written analyzing the foot strikes of many runners at the start, mid, and end of the marathon. You would expect to see much more forefoot strikes especially at the speeds they run . . . yet there were more heel strikers in the last 1/2 of the race.


    Bottom line is try all the techniques and utilize what works / feels the best for you. Anyway you land . . . there is always tons of stress on your body. True distance running is a battle of injury more than anything.

    Then again most people on these boards aren't distance runners (6+miles) so they can get away with more.
     
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  28. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    Yep, that is the case with me unfortunately. I have tried everything and I can't run distance anymore or play sports that require constant running (soccer). Truely frustrating. I have extreme supination that leads to a lot of pressure on the inside of my shin. Luckily I can play tennis no problem but if I run more than 5 miles or play soccer I get severe pains that feel like stress fractures :(.
     
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  29. T Woody

    T Woody Rookie

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    Are you saying we've evolved differently than these tribal runners since the time society broke away from this and began to wear shoes? A few thousand years is nowhere near enough time to change our anatomy based on environmental factors.

    The reason our feet are so jacked up is because we wear shoes straight out of a cradle up until old age. Take a look at little toddlers feet. Their toes are flat and spread wide like tribesman and aboriginees and they can easily run around and move barefoot. That is until you stuff their feet into poorly fitting shoes for 10 or 15 years. Then their feet look like most of ours. Toes crushed together and an inability to move around barefoot without blinding calf and ankle pain.

    It's very funny that we try to solve foot problems with special shoes when shoes themselves have caused our foot problems. Shoes are for sure necessary for most of the things we do in modern life, but working up slowly to running around barefoot or in vibram five fingers will do a lot of good for your feet.
     
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  30. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    No I never said that.

    Saying shoes cause our problems is an assumption you are making. It hasn't been proven and there have been people injured by barefoot running. There are shoes with no lateral support . . . just a cushion to protect your soles. How can you compare todlers with undeveloped feet to runners lol. Toddlers run a few feet . . . runners run miles with more bodyweight stress. Im not saying your wrong . . . im saying that there is no conclusive studies about anything. Why?? Because we are all different.


    In regards to the evolution thing. Im saying that tribal runners have different gene pools than we do. Thats not to say they have "evolved" some special adaption to running. It is simply that their anatomies are more suited to running. Let me clarify. Not everyone living in urban areas have the same running potential. Some can run all their lives without problems. And others like me can't run long distances without issues. These mexican / african tribal runners are a group of the former. That is gene pools suited for running. Good shaped feet that are more likely to be able to sustain the constant pounding that running generates.
     
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  31. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Okay, so any shoe recommendations?
     
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  32. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    I'm considering one of the following:

    http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRS-ASDSR8.html

    http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRS-AADIOM2.html

    http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRS-MMUSH2.html


    All 3 are listed as having minimum-moderate cushioning and the heel-toe height difference is small.


    These shoes have even less cushioning and even less of a heel-toe difference:

    http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRS-ADZRKB.html

    http://www.runningwarehouse.com/descpageMRS-ASHS4.html

    Thr hyperspeeds don't appear to have rubber soles so they are likely to wear out pretty quickly.
     
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  33. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    Not to sidetrack this discussion, but I'd like to know one thing... the shoes at runningwarehouse seem awfully expensive. I get much better deals at places like Discount Shoe Warehouse or even some sporting goods stores here (Silicon Valley, CA), and I can even try 'em out before buying. What's the deal here? Runningwarehouse does have a much better selection, that's for sure.
     
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  34. Sentinel

    Sentinel Bionic Poster

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    I too am a supinator. V high arch. Tonnes of shin pain in the second year of running (when i started wearing running shoes).
    Once again i can only recommend short strides, and landing softly and silently.

    I do remember i use to make a conscious effort to walk and run with feet straight. It became a habit. A lot of people walk with feet splayed to the side - sort of like Charlie Chaplin. I can't however say that this helped or not.



    True, which is why I had recommended that this be slowly increased. If you are already injured, pls dont try running in flat shoes or barefoot.
    I had taken a long illness break, and when i restarted running i used flat shoes and barefoot - increasing slowly day by day.

    When i reached around the hour mark, i began doing my road work in my running shoes. However, i also worked in shorter strides -- this one was tough but helped me cut time down a big deal.

    i can think of a reason for that. When one tires one's style becomes sloppy. Tired runners often throw their arms around sideways or let their arms fall by the side, or bob their neck sideways, etc .. I remember when getting tired i would fall back to longer strides which slowed me down and i would have to conciously ensure i kept to the optimal stride length.

    However, this does not mean that the style a tired runner employs in the second half of the marathon, is the correct style, or more natural. its often ugly and uneconomical.

    Absolutely true, but work any changes in gradually not suddenly. Observe carefully. Make one change at a time.

    I disagree with your last line about running being a battle against injuries. I was heavily injured till i made the above changes to stride length and shoes.

    At the same time I think there was a big psychological issue too. The time i started getting injuries was also the time i began reading of them a lot (Runner's World etc). The tone of the articles and shoes ads was that you *will* get injured if ... e.g., you are running more than 40 mpw etc. One change i made along with the barefoot thing was to stop obsessing about injuries.

    I also flew to the US to get a pair of "orthotics" from some top flight doctor recommended to me by a leading shoe brand. No improvement, only stranger more exotic injuries.

    all the best.
     
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  35. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    You were lucky then :). Not everyone finds the answers to their problems with technique / shoes. Like me :(. I was running 10+ miles at a time though.

    I have had custom shoes made, custom orthodics made, tried every style of support from no to high support, tried every footstrike, tried barefoot running, had MRI's, xrays, catscans, sports therapy, specialized sports ortho's, read thousands of articles . . . the list goes on.

    Bottom line for me is thanks to the shape of my foot / leg I will always end up with pains if I run too far. Wasn't psychological because the pains were so bad I could barely walk.

    Anyway I do triathlons for fun right now so im not disabled lol. And I play tennis without problems. When I train my longest runs are only race distance (5-6 miles). And only run 2X a week max.
     
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  36. coyfish

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    I would find a specialized running store. These should have treadmills where they can watch you run / analyzed your strike. Then they can recommend a type of shoe for you. Usually they have a solid selection. Couple stores where I live are fleet feet / track shack.
     
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  37. onehandbh

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    I think the way you run makes a difference. One of my sisters hurt her
    knees b/c she used to LAND on the ground with each step when she ran.
    She didn't redirect the energy from the ground to bounce back up with
    each step. I've seen heavier people pound the ground when they run.
    Probably not a good thing. Especially b/c their whole body collapses onto
    their joints (in the ankles/knees).

    I'm probably not explaining it well.
     
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  38. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    Thanks, Snoopy (wow, I enjoyed typing that), but the first three have some really big heels. And even the last two look pretty cushiony. Are there are any shoes that really sort of adhere to what's discussed in this article?
     
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  39. Zachol82

    Zachol82 Professional

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    I just have to ask, are we looking for running shoes here or tennis shoes?
     
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  40. bhupaes

    bhupaes Professional

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    This thread is about running shoes... or was... :)

    Thanks for the suggestions, coyfish and onehandbh. I use running shoes for sprinting, warm up running, HIIT, etc. Since I only run to train for tennis, I save my money for tennis shoes. For running, I try to pick a comfortable shoe that's not outrageously expensive. I like ASICS for running because they are comfortable and I can pick up an older model for under 60 bucks if I look around.
     
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  41. stoble

    stoble Semi-Pro

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    I've read similar articles and as a tennis player I started wondering about this since I don't jog at all, I just play tennis. I started paying attention to how I run and found that on the tennis court I'm all toes pretty much. But I went jogging one day and found that I was jogging heel first. Can a person jog the way they sprint?
     
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  42. snoopy

    snoopy Professional

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    #42
  43. coyfish

    coyfish Hall of Fame

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    When you sprint you have to run on your toes. Its impossible to do otherwise unless your slow as hell lol. The reason is because you are trying to keep your momentum moving forward. When you strike with your entire foot touching the ground it slows you down / creates more friction. So you can't run like you sprint because your body isn't leaning forward like it is when you sprint.


    But you can run on your midfoot which many people confuse with toe striking. Those are 2 different styles though.
     
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