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Heel to Toe May be Hurting You

Monday, March 12, 2012

Author: 
Katrina Heisler
Monday, March 12, 2012

While running, we repetitively hit our feet against the pavement, one in front of the other. Lots of times, our brain runs as well, thinking about your current to do list, a conversation earlier in the day, how you’re breathing, what music is playing, but do you ever stop to think about just how your moving your feet? It is almost like breathing, you don’t think about each breath in and out, it just happens, but a recent study from Harvard University is saying we should be making a conscious effort to think about how our foot hits the ground. The New York Times article “Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?” discusses the way you run, either heel to toe or forefoot first, can be causing you unintentional injury.  While most of us strike the ground with our heel first, we don't always maintains the same stride. Many factors affect how we run such as speed, terrain and whether you’re tired or not. So while researchers were studying the relation between stride and injuries amongst the Harvard University cross country team they found a larger distribution of injuries among predominant heel strikers.

Does this mean all heel strikers should change their form? First, have you been prone to getting injured in the past? If not, you probably do not need to change your form, however if you have experienced multiple injuries you should consider it. You will need to proceed with this change slowly however or you may hurt yourself even more. “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” says Mr. Douad, one of the researchers of the study. He suggests focusing on landing forefoot during the last five minutes of your run and gradually increasing that time; as you become more comfortable and you do not notice any significant continuing soreness.  So next time you’re on the road or the treadmill, take a minute to think about how you are running and what works best for your feet and form. 

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