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New Study Demonstrates “Traditional” Running Shoes Influence Incorrect Form?

The study titled Footstrike patterns among novice runners wearing a conventional, neutral running shoe was published in Gait and Posture and can be read by clicking below.
Footstrike patterns among novice runners wearing a conventional, neutral running shoe

What this means
Is heel striking bad for runners? That question remains unanswered according to some, but when you interpret the literature we can draw conclusions that it is not “normal”.

To begin, how to we adequately define heel striking? There are two basic ways you can define a heel strike – 1.) heel striking significantly in front of your body on an extended leg 2.) heel striking with your foot under your body or close to its center of gravity.

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Heel striking with extended leg in front of body
Studies have demonstrated increase in force to the lower extremity when we land with our heel significantly in front of our bodies center of gravity.1,2,3 In simplistic terms one is landing with a rigid leg that does not allow for adequate shock absorption that can be obtained through the following joints: 1. Midfoot and rearfoot joints of foot
2. Ankle joint
3. Knee joint

Mark Cucuzzella, elite runner and Medical Doctor from West Virginia (www.naturalrunningcenter.com), is known for making the proposition that it would be impossible to run three consecutive 50m dashes barefoot and heel striking. The pain would prohibit one from finishing.

Heel striking with foot and leg under body
This is without doubt is significantly different from heel striking with an extended leg. When studies demonstrate elite runners as being heel strikers, this is typically how they are “heel striking”. The leg and foot are landing below the center of gravity of the body with the knee bent allowing for the “spring mechanism” to be elicited. It is impossible to determine whether or not the heel is truly striking first because of the shoe gear. The small amount of cushion on the heel of the shoe places the foot at a slight angle which could mean the mid foot or forefoot is striking simultaneously with the heel of the shoe with the foot at an angle allowing recoil to occur in the cushioned heel. In other words the foot is landing flat in association with the shoe gear.

Regardless of what we all consider to be “perfect form”, this “perfect form” will vary from one runner to another. If a cushioned shoe is required to run, then the form is probably incorrect. One should be able to run without shoe gear and innately cushion their landing.

1. Williams DS 3rd, Green DH, Wurzinger B. Changes in lower extremity movement and power absorption during forefoot striking and barefoot running. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Oct;7(5):525-32

2. Lieberman DE, Venkadesan M, Werbel WA, Daoud AI, D’Andrea S, Davis IS, Mang’eni RO, Pitsiladis Y. Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners. Nature. 2010 Jan 28;463(7280):531-5.

3. Braunstein B, Arampatzis A, Eysel P, Brüggemann GP. Footwear affects the gearing at the ankle and knee joints during running. J Biomech. 2010 Aug 10;43(11):2120-5.

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