Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A bit more barefooting

Marc from Feel Good Eating pointed me towards this one from yesterday's NY Times:

Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?

But, says Mr. Daoud, who was himself an oft-injured heel-striker during his cross-country racing days, "if you have experienced injury after injury and you're a heel-striker, it might be worth considering a change." (If you're unsure of your strike pattern, have a friend videotape you from the side as you run, he suggests, then use slow motion to watch how your foot hits the ground.)

If you do decide to reshape your stride, proceed slowly, he cautions. Many people who abruptly switch to barefoot running or a forefoot running form get hurt in the process, he says. The body's tissues adapt to the forces generated by long-term heel striking. Change your form, and the forces will affect different parts of the leg, leading to soreness and, potentially, injury.

Try landing on the ball of your foot "for five minutes at first at the end of a run," Mr. Daoud suggests. Work up to longer periods of forefoot landings as your body adjusts and only if you do not notice significant, continuing soreness.

In his own case, Mr. Daoud now runs consistently with a forefoot landing style, but the transition was not seamless. "I broke a metatarsal while running my first marathon after transitioning a bit too quickly and expecting a bit too much from my body too soon," he says. So fair warning to those considering making the transition to forefoot landings: "Give your body time!"

I think I had mentioned this research before but it is good to see it getting broader readership


Kiki said...

Hey Chris:

I've been enjoying your blog for some time now . . . I think it needs to be emphasized that *especially for older runners* successful gait adjustment is a matter of months, or even years. Not only do the soft tissues need to adapt, but also the hardwired firing patterns farther up the chain. I've had all sorts of problems with my left leg, including drop foot, due to pattern confusion and inhibition resulting from calling upon a different network of mobilizers after 35 years of heel planting. The sheer milage involved in Ironman training is finally setting things right. Long story short: go easy, and be patient. best, Kiki

FeelGoodEating said...


What I like about the article is that they make it very clear that "bare-footing" is not some magical panacea..

This falls in line with my paleo/primal eating thoughts..which is not a panacea either...

However, you are stacking the odds significantly in your favor decreasing chances of injury and disease with both...

Aaron said...

Hi Chris ... Happy belated Birthday,

I transitioned from heel stike to mid foot landing a few years back. I also ended up with a stress fracture in on of my metatarsals. You do have to take it slow.

I sum up my journey here

michael plunkett said...

This was how we were taught to run in HS back in the late 60s, early 70s from our track coach who was way ahead of the curve when it came to kinesiology and form of function in track and field. We use to laugh at him for his attempt at precision but it resulted in keen performance even after HS as any new athletic event from golf to skiing became easy.
lift knee, flick ankle, land other leg, repeat.