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Individual running techniques

A study conducted in Japan stated that in a 21k footrace of 283 elite runners, 75 per cent of the runners were found to heel strike and 24 per cent were midfoot strikers. This study proved that most elite distance runners actually heel strike rather than midfoot strike in a half marathon race.

As a runner, you are probably aware that running techniques change based on the individual, speed, terrain, footwear, gradient and fatigue level. When sprinting uphill for 10 seconds, most runners will be on their forefoot/toes to enable the push-off from the ground. If you are running downhill, you are more likely to land on the midfoot as you lean back slightly to prevent yourself from falling forward. With a slow easy jog, the majority of runners would likely adopt a heel striking technique.

Different runners would possess different innate styles of running. The most important consideration biomechanically would be the position of your foot, in relation to your body’s centre of gravity when the foot strikes the ground while running.

Regardless of the foot section that hits the ground first (heel/midfoot/forefoot), the closer you land to your centre of gravity, the less braking impact forces your body will experience. You can take smaller steps to prevent over-striding and adopt a smooth lifting and landing motion of the legs to reduce impact forces.

The conclusion that everyone needs to run in a certain foot striking position is flawed. Each individual is different and we should not put everyone in the same category. There are common traits in a good running technique; however, to solely look at switching to barefoot/minimalist footwear or to go entirely barefoot and expect good running form to fall into place is too ambitious.

In addition, developing yourself into a more competitive runner requires a combination of training strategies that can help you to adopt a good running posture, such as running drills and lots of gradual practice.

Read on for tips to become a barefoot or minimalist runner.

Ref: Q15