Heel-touch vs Heel-strike in runners. There is a difference

Much of the running world is concerned with foot strike and what loads and what forces are distributed through the foot and leg.  It has been shown that many of the elite runners seem to make heel-contact (a big no-no for the minimalists/naturalists).  But this may not be the case.

Dr. Eric Jorde, PT, DPT, OCS, Cert SMT, Cert MDT and I were discussing and reviewing some running topics since we treat a few runners in the clinic. He exposed me to TTBikeFit who has some wonderfully narrated slow motion capture of both marathoners and Ironman competitors. We noticed that many of the elite runners made heel-contact during their cycle… but did not load the foot until the mid-foot was in contact.  

Perhaps super running nerds know this, but this concept is certainly not circulating popularly.  As shown in the image above, snap-shots in time are taken and points are made off of the snap-shot.  These images leave out much of the picture.

The guys at TTBikeFit have some other wonderful insights (particularly the Gazelle and the Glider concepts) so if you’re in to running there is a lot to learn there.

Disclaimer: my personal running beliefs are not dogmatic.  Cushion is important, minimalism and foot strength and mobility are important, and the glider and gazelle are both acceptable and appropriate running styles.  I do like a small heel->toe drop however.

What do you think about the contact vs strike concept… and does it make a difference?

Matt D

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2 thoughts on “Heel-touch vs Heel-strike in runners. There is a difference

  1. Awesome. Best explanation of running styles I have ever seen. I think this explains perhaps why many elite distance runners run the way they run, especially if they come from track backgrounds (10K, etc). Can’t run a fast 10K with the gliding style. Also seems to show that footstrike type follows the gait style and one isn’t necessarily better than the other, especially at sub-elite long distance speeds.

    Like

  2. Pingback: A Year in Review | PTbraintrust

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