Rearfoot, midfoot, forefoot, What Foot?
If you’ve read much recently about running form, you’ve heard about the drive toward becoming a midfoot strike runner. It’s been pretty black and white - rearfoot strike bad, midfoot strike good.But without knowing why or how, it all becomes a big jumbled mess. Countless runners have told me they midfoot strike, while video reveals exactly the opposite.
Before we get to the hows, let’s discuss the whys. Research has shown us that rearfoot strikers experience a much faster onset of impact forces. With the repetitive nature of running, even small reductions in impact force can be a very big deal. As you run, the hard impact of your heel on the ground creates a relative breaking mechanism, sending a rapid shock through your leg. Landing more on your midfoot allows your foot to better absorb the forces of running and slow the onset of impact to your body.
The technique to transition to midfoot striking can be tricky an takes a lot of practice. Many runners simply point their toe just before they hit the ground, landing instead on the forefoot. Unfortunately, this method still results in a high impact force. The trick to becoming a good midfoot striker is to shorten your stride and land with the foot slightly closer to your body. This technique will bring the foot more in line with your body and reduce the breaking force your leg creates and it puts you in a better position to begin the propulsion phase again.
It may feel like you’re not taking long enough steps at first, but with a little practice it will begin to feel normal. Video your foot contact on a treadmill to ensure you’ve got it down. And remember - perfect practice makes perfect.