Running Technique: Who Is More Effective, Heal, Mid-Foot or Forefoot Strikers?
For runners, running technique is extremely important. Being able to improve it even slightly can have a big impact on runner’s efficiency, how fast and how long they are able to run and the speed in which they recover. It can also help to limit or ward off over-use injuries.
Many runners, at least serious ones, are concerned with how to improve their running technique. When discussing how to best improve technique, it is important to clarify what a person means. Improvement to some people will mean improved speed, to others, greater efficiency and to still others, fewer injuries. In the interest of focusing on one aspect of running technique we will, in this article, discuss how it relates to speed.
Unfortunately, not enough studies have been done on runners and the techniques they use, particularly distant runners, which is what we will be covering in this article. Conventional wisdom extols running in such a manner that the heal strikes the ground first. Whether or not this true, hasn’t thoroughly been researched, though there have been several decent studies. Below, we will discuss one of the better ones.
A study published in the Journal of Strength of Conditioning, observed runners in the 2004 Sapporro International Marathon using a high speed camera, at the 15 km mark in an effort to determine what running technique were most utilized by runners, specifically at is concerned foot strike. They were able to observe 283 runners. 248 of them were men and the remaining 35, women. Each racer was classified as one of the following, mid-foot, forefoot or heel-strikers.
Researchers found that seventy-five percent of the runners were heel strikers, twenty-four percent were mid-foot strikers and only one percent was forefoot strikers. From the aforementioned results, it might be easy to conclude that the best running technique for long distance running is to first strike with the heel. However, this conclusion wouldn’t necessarily be correct. If a person were to delve further into the study, they would discover that there were a higher percentage of mid-foot strikers in the top positions than any other. Even though there were more heel-strikers, this didn’t translate into better finishing positions for those runners.
Running technique is such an individual thing, especially for amateur runners. Though there are some commonly held theories regarding which technique is best, there hasn’t been enough research on the subject and there are different schools of thought. For now, the best approach may be experimentation. Runners may want to give various techniques a try until they find the one most effective for themselves.
Filed under: Techniques
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