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Analysing Foot Strike Patterns In Runners

by MASS4D® Insoles

Foot Strike Patterns

Different people run in different ways, and there is no hard and fast rule for the best style of running. Each running strike pattern has its implications, and the debate on which pattern is more efficient for running is ongoing.

Analysing foot strike in runners is important in understanding the risk of foot and leg injuries in runners. So knowing how you run and the impact it has on your feet, ankle, and legs can help improve running form and avoid unhealthy movements that may lead to injuries.

Types of Running Strikes

Every person’s striking pattern is unique. Generally, however, there are three ways your foot contacts the ground:

  1. Rearfoot (heel) strike - when the rear foot first contacts the ground and the rest of the foot follows. The toes point upwards during the strike, and the vertical impact is the highest in this strike pattern.
  2. Midfoot strike - when the outer part of your whole foot first gets in contact with the ground. The centre of mass moves from the forefoot to the rearfoot in this strike pattern, with the ankle joint levelling the bottom of the foot to the ground.
  3. Forefoot strike - when the edge of the front side of the foot first contacts the ground, followed by the rest of the foot. The ankle joint acts as a pivot during strike as the rest of the foot (midfoot and the heel) follows.

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Impact of Strike Patterns

A study by Ana Ogueta-Alday on forefoot and rearfoot runners concluded that while there are no significant differences between the two, the increase in contact time and decrease in flight time makes rearfoot runners more economical.

Forefoot runners are known to bend their knees when the foot strikes the ground, which causes the length and frequency of the stride to shorten.

If you have a foot posture problem, such as flat feet, the risk of overuse injury is higher. In such cases, it is best to have a foot specialist examine your feet, who may recommend orthotic use.

Orthotics and insoles such as MASS4D® can be beneficial in holding the foot in its corrected posture and reducing hyperextension that may cause injuries. This can lead to improvement in running form and ability.

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Reference: Almeida O. M., Davis S. I., Lopes D. A. (2015) Biomechanical Differences of Foot Strike Patterns During Running: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy: August 2015, DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2015.6019

Reference: Ogueta-Alday A., Rodríguez-Marroyo A. J., García-López J. (2014) Rearfoot Striking Runners Are More Economical Than Midfoot Strikers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2014, Vol. 46, No.3, pp. 580-585

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