Is heel striking really bad for you?

pair of blue-and-white Adidas running shoes

Heel striking has been a controversial topic in the running community for many years. Some people believe that heel striking is bad for your joints and that you should try to change your foot strike to a mid-foot or forefoot strike. However, the research doesn’t necessarily support this claim.

In fact, a recent study – featuring over 10,000 runners – found that there was no difference in injury rates between heel strikers and forefoot strikers. The study also found that heel strikers were just as efficient as forefoot strikers at slow to moderate speeds.

Why is heel striking still considered to be bad?

There are a few reasons. First, heel striking can lead to overstriding. Overstriding is when your foot lands in front of your body, which can increase the impact forces on your joints. Second, heel striking can cause your foot to slap the ground, which can also increase the impact forces.

However, it’s important to note that not all heel strikers overstride or slap the ground. In fact, many heel strikers have a very smooth and efficient running form.

If you’re a heel striker who is concerned about your risk of injury, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk. First, make sure that you’re running with good form. This means having a short stride length and landing under your body. Second, you can try to increase your cadence. A higher cadence can help to reduce the impact forces on your joints.

A woman running

If you’re not sure if you’re heel striking, you can ask a running coach or physical therapist to watch you run. They can help you to identify any areas of your form that could be improved.

Tips for heel strikers

  • Focus on landing under your body. This will help to reduce the impact forces on your joints.
  • Increase your cadence. A higher cadence can help to reduce the impact forces on your joints.
  • Run on a soft surface. This will help to cushion your impact and make it easier to run with a short stride length.
  • Strengthen your core and glutes. A strong core and glutes can help to stabilise your body and reduce the impact forces on your joints.

Ultimately, whether or not heel striking is bad for you depends on your individual running style and how you land.

If you’re a heel striker who has a smooth and efficient running form, then there’s no need to worry about changing your foot strike. However, if you’re a heel striker who over strides or hits the ground, then you may want to consider making some changes to your form.

Picture of Dan Cross

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