“Heel striking – is it really the enemy of good running form?”

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I stumbled across this post today. It is titled Heel striking – is it really the enemy of good running form?

Apparently, the debate is still on! I’ll admit it, I’m still a heel striker – at least to some extent. Sure, if I’m fresh and it’s a shorter race, my midfoot is getting all kinds of action. But late in a marathon, or in an ultra, forget about it!

So I’m curious – I’ve got more questions here than answers:

Are you a heel striker? midfoot striker? forefoot striker?

Have you switched shoes in an effort to hit the ground differently?

Have you been injured in the last year? Do you think it’s related to your footstrike?

Have you read Born to Run?

What is an aspect of your running form that you think you need to work on?

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16 Responses to “Heel striking – is it really the enemy of good running form?”

  1. Chris P says:

    I think I’m generally a mid-footer striker. This is such a complex issue. I was injured early this year and that was due to running too much too soon, not sure if it was due to heel strike. I haven’t read “Born to Run”.

  2. As a coach, I see a wide variety of running forms. Some of my fastest runners technically heel strike. Some of my slowest bound from midfoot to midfoot. My observation is that the most efficient fall somewhere in the middle; those that slam into the ground with their heels and those that “ballerina” end up with injuries and less fast times. Everyone else in the middle seems to be okay. Unless they are at either end of this spectrum, my tendency is to not mess with the foot strike but to build a stronger kinetic chain (hips, glutes, core, arm swing) and let the feet fall as they will throughout this development.

  3. FLRunnerBoy says:

    I’m a forefoot striker and always have been. I don’t stress too much on playing with my form these days. When I first got into distance running, I played with my form and all it did was mess with my head. I need work on keeping my shoulders more relaxed. I notice that I tend to tense up which at times effect my back which in turn affects my legs which in turn affects my form at later stages of a race from time to time

  4. emmelineruns says:

    I am a heel striker to an extent, definitely late in races or when I wear certain shoes. I’m in support shoes right now coming off an injury and I can feel the heel strike. I need to work on my arms! I have a feeling that I have a bit of that soccer player swing going on, not too bad, but I’m sure it’s wasting at least a tiny bit of energy that I could use elsewhere. I also don’t think I use them enough in general!

  5. I’ve never even thought about it 🙂 I think I’m just like you. I’m more of a heel striker during a warm up and towards the end of my run, when I’m tired. I’ll definitely put this book on my to read list, it has some great reviews! xoxo

  6. bgddyjim says:

    I am mid-foot to heel, just like you. I will not switch my shoes and won’t go to the trouble of changing my stride. I was not injured in the last three years of running (6:30-8:30 minute miles depending on distance). I have not read born to run (nor will I – I’m not buyin’ the whole corporate conspiracy to charge more for shoes meme, have you seen the price of minimalist shoes?!).

  7. I think I’m a bit of a heel striker. Lately I’ve really been trying to focus on increasing my cadence. I’m struggling with a bit of an injury but I can still run. And I find when my cadence increases my body feels better because it reduces the impact felt. But increasing cadence is hard and I have to really concentrate.

  8. dgobs says:

    I’m definitely a heel striker. I’ve had people tell me to work on switching to mid- or forefoot but whenever I tried I’d get bad pains in my calves, whereas I wasn’t feeling much pain while heel striking. I have been trying to shorten my stride, as I also tend to take huge strides when I’m not paying attention, and I feel even better when I can remember to do so, even though I still land on my heels. What I really need to work on is my posture!

  9. runwright says:

    Same here. Start off conscious of mid-foot placement but when I get tired, I am more likely to hit my heels. Need full support from my shoes.

  10. lawrunner says:

    I am a midfoot striker but I don’t think that any one foot strike is right for all people. I think that you can change your foot strike consciously but most people do best when they run in the form that is most natural for them. My biggest challenge is speed. I haven’t had any injuries in the last year that were related to running, just a couple related to moving across the country. I have read Born to Run and about 20 other books on running form.

  11. Maria Mintz says:

    I was a heel striker when I ran 3 miles every morning. A neighbor who was a former P.E. teacher pointed it out and tried to help me correct this.

  12. I’m a midfoot striker but also sometimes a heel striker. I had IT band tendinitis in the last year (thankfully after my last college season though), but it was due to weakness in my hips, not my foot strike.

    Also I have read Born to Run, I love that book!

  13. marathonsam says:

    I was a pretty heavy heel striker for years, until a stress fracture in my heel forces me onto my forefoot. Returning from the injury totally changed my gait. I have read (and LOVED) ‘Born to Run,’ but I’m not so on board with the millitant barefoot brigade. I’ve been working on letting my arms swing more freely since I took a ChiRunning workshop.

  14. Pretty sure im midfoot, have pf but i attribute that to increase in miles this year not gait. Speaking if born to run…was he the guy who wrote about huaraches? Im writing a blog about them, whats your opinion?

  15. Jim McKeever says:

    I’ve been working on Good Form Running (mid-foot strike, lean, cadence and posture) and I think it’s helped reduce wear and tear as I get older. Fatigue = form breakdown late in a run, but if I keep GFR in mind, I can minimize heel strike.

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