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