Running on your toes

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  • Running on your toes
  • surfer
    Member

    Accelerating – my balls of my feet, I lean forward and push backward (i.e. 100 and first 1/2 of 200m). But longer distance and constant speed I can't lean forward as much (obviously or I'd fall over) which means my body straightens up closer to vertical and my foot land heel first and in front of me. When I slow right down I can land forefoot first but it feels very un-natural to move that to higher speeds (even fast jogging), it feels forced and painful.

    But we are always pushing forward (accelerating) otherwise we would stop. Of course in the early part of the process the action is more powerful but the photo of Haille illustrates this.
    Heel striking is possible through the whole cycle however it is less efficient than forefoot striking. The latter may be less comfortable but that is irrelevant.

    Just get out there and do it.

    absolutement Darcy however (and it is too late for old blokes like me) it is important to conentrate on style particularly in younger runners. A common example of this is very low knee lift in children (very common in young girls from what I have seen) which improves when they practice shorter distance running at speed. This improves posture and efficiency, as well as speed over all distances.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    I think the design of running shoes encourages heel striking, watch people running barefoot, and they will nearly all run on their forefoot. But once you start heel striking, it's a hard habit to break, and as long as your not injuring yourself, it's not really massively "bad" per se.

    mt
    Member

    Fore foot running is the right way, try doing some bare foot running and see how you naturally run. It's modern shoe technology that has brought about the belief that heel striking is the way. If you are heal stiking you are sending the shock direct to your knees, just look at some people runing land directly on their heel. They bounce up and down as they go forward, that is a shock load going directly through the body via the knee. Think of your foot as sprung lever, you can see this in the way children run, it's more natural and fluid. A chap called Percy Cerutty wrote loads about in the 60's and 70's (Google him). My running coach over 30 years ago had us practice fore foot running for warm ups and warm downs (a habit I still have), this helped with are running at speed because it became our natural style. In recent years I have moved away from heavily cushioned running shoes and found no problems. Even been doing some bare foot running (try it you will love the freedom) and with those vibram toe shoes (they are great) but I do feel like a nutter in them at over 50 years old.

    Hope that all makes some sense.

    roper
    Member

    There is a load of marketing and rollocks said about heal striking running and forefoot running styles and shoes.
    There simlpy is not one way to run. You run according to the conditions you are running on and in and according to your own body, health and fitness.
    If you want to try barefoot running then it isn't just about how thin the sole is. There must be a much larger toe box at the front of the shoe to allow the natural spread and movement of the toes through the stride. Also there should not be restrictions on the Achilles which some shoes can cause.

    I mainly run longer trail distances and would not be able to do so if I stuck to one type of gait, so to me the best shoe is one which is most adaptable.

    surfer
    Member

    as your not injuring yourself, it's not really massively "bad" per se.

    Thats a fair point and any running is better than none from a health point of view but not from a performance perspective.

    Aye indeed surfer, you're not wrong!

    Jamie, they look wicked. Linky? (on phone today). Oh, 310XT delivered. Nice kit! Will be trying that software you recommended.

    ahwiles
    Member

    running fore-foot in modern running shoes (with a thick rubber heel) doesn't really work.

    don't think that you've tried fore-foot running because you gave it a go in your nike-airs.

    When you land fore-foot in thin-soled shoes (or even barefoot) you have an inch or so of empty space between your heel and the ground. The shock is absorbed by your heel decelerating through this space. Modern running shoes fill this space with rubber, which will only compress a few mm, which isn't enough. Your natural adjustment to this is to exaggerate the toe-point to reclaim the inch or so of empty space you need under heel. this might explain why fore-foot running feels weird to some people; they're trying to do it in heel-strike shoes…

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Agreed ahwiles. I also found there seemed to be very little padding under my forefoot in the shoes I chose when using my heel striking gait. I could have done with a bit more padding and very much firmer.

    Also found my heels came inwards more when running on my toes.

    Thinking about it, the toe thing may be why I find it much much easier to run up steep hills than along the flat. Cos you have no choice but to use toes.

    nosemineb
    Member

    Those inno8 get some good reviews on the fra website from the barefoot community there. May have to add them to my innov collection!

    Shandy
    Member

    As already suggested, Chi Running is definitely worth a read. Its especially good for "recreational" running where you are just trying to cover some ground at a relaxed pace without straining anything. A mate of mine worked up to a marathon and he found it very helpful.

    Keva
    Member

    awhiles…. do you think that could that have contributed to me straining the soleus in my calf ? …I did build up the milage gently over a period of two or three weeks but got to about 5mile and the calf strained. At the time I was good for 9miles in about an hour running heel strike. I started forefoot at about 2-3 miles then started to build back up. Should I buy new trainers before continuing ? Im just starting to run again and am using a mixture of forefoot and heel strike in cushioned trainers and did 2-3 miles this morning… all good so far..

    HTTP404
    Member

    Gordon Pirie was a great advocate of the forefoot strike.
    He wrote a great *free* book called "Running Fast and Injury Free".
    http://www.williamsichel.co.uk/documents/Running_Fast_and_Injury_Free.pdf

    POSE running is interesting. And there is the theory the speed of the runner dictates the foot strike which has been echoed by one of the replies. ie the faster you run the more likely you'll strike with the forefoot.

    alexxx
    Member

    whilst this thread is here, can i grab a quick piece of advice πŸ™‚

    if I havent run before, which I havent! how long, far or how much should I aim to push myself on the first run?
    is it better to go easy then run the next day or have a break or often and little or what!?

    im 12.8stone 6ft totally mr average πŸ™‚

    thanks
    al

    ahwiles
    Member

    Keva: there's nothing gentle about trying to totally change your running style in 3 weeks. that sounds very brutal to me.

    it's not just a muscle thing, it's also a technique thing.

    based on nothing more than my own lazy 'easy does it' attitude to more or less everything, i'd say 3 months would be more like it.

    alexxx: go for a short run, something that'll take about 5 minutes. a short loop from home is good.

    see how you feel the next day, and build up from there. don't go running 2 days in a row, until you really know how your body will react.

    Geronimo
    Member

    I have found that running on the balls of the feet ie. not on the heel, not quite on the toes, lifting the knees and consciously 'making circles' (like when trying to spin cranks smoothly) is a good technique for making good progress on smooth surfaces.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    As a non-runner (but want to start soon given the crap cycling conditions) this confuses me to. As a couple of others have said surely it's down to the speed you're running at? When you're walking you heel-strike (at least I do unless I'm trying to sneak up on someone ninja-style…) and when you sprint your land on your fore-foot. So somewhere in between you switch from one to the other and this debate is more about what speed you transition at? I've not tried but I imagine a slow jog it would feel pretty odd trying to land on your fore-foot?

    surfer
    Member

    Gordon Pirie was a great advocate of the forefoot strike.
    He wrote a great *free* book called "Running Fast and Injury Free".

    We may have had this conversation before on another thread. I have read that and also the biography of Pirie who was ahead of his time with regard to some trainng techniques, such as interval training etc.
    He was a world beater then and would still be in the top few in the UK now!

    What tyre heel-strike for snow? πŸ˜‰

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    I have found that running on the balls of the feet ie. not on the heel, not quite on the toes

    Clearly toe running means the ball of one's foot. It'd be impossible to run on ONLY the toes and not the ball..!

    matt_bl
    Member

    I have a pair of 'five fingers' which I was happy with for a couple of weeks.

    That is until I used them for two sessions in two days, after which I felt like I had broken all of my toes. It took about three weeks to make a full recovery.

    Did I just over do it on the amount I used them or is it possible to run too much on your toes, if you see what I mean?

    I do like them and would like to give fore-foot running another try, but I am training for a marathon in May so can't really afford three weeks out!

    Matt

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    alexxx, start easy, find a route that's about 15-20 minutes long, and aim to run it. You'll probably start by running a bit them walking a bit, that's fine, just over time try to shorten the walking bits, until you're comfortably running it all. then either lengthen your run, or speed up a bit, whatever. try to run a couple of times a week to begin with, and then just increase the frequency as you feel you can, aim to be running more days than not. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If it hurts, stop running, and rest.

    IanMunro
    Member

    I've not tried but I imagine a slow jog it would feel pretty odd trying to land on your fore-foot?

    Here's a simple experiment. Just take off your shoes and socks and try jogging on the spot (which is pretty the definition of the slowest possible run).
    What bit of your feet are you landing on?

    The tricks are to keep your running cadence far higher than your used to from plodding 180fpm or higher, keep your foot contact with the ground underneath your body, so no stick legs out infront and hoping the shoe cushioning will take the load, and try and lift your foot off the ground as soon as it contacts rather than pushing off, and bend the knees more. The things sort of feedback on each other, so do one and the others fall into place to a large extent.
    The minimalist running group on google has a wealth of bedtime reading on the subject http://groups.google.com/group/huaraches?pli=1
    This is quite good viewing if you've got a spare lunchtime http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_usxrvKvus

    coffeeking
    Member

    But we are always pushing forward (accelerating) otherwise we would stop. Of course in the early part of the process the action is more powerful but the photo of Haille illustrates this.

    None of those images really show anything as they don't show the forward front hitting the ground (unless I've missed one). To run at a constant speed you are not accelerating unless you class your air resistance as a major force. The body changes gait from when accelerating to when at constant speed, mine goes from forefoot to heel. It does that without any tuition, because it's the path of least resistance.

    Heel striking is possible through the whole cycle however it is less efficient than forefoot striking. The latter may be less comfortable but that is irrelevant.

    Comfort is just about the biggest factor you can imagine, slight discomfort causes gait adjustment. Same reason that your gait changes all the time – run on a soft surface and I tend to land heel first, run on a hard surface or try to accelerte in any direction and I switch to balls of feet. My body reacts as it always has since I was a kid – sprinting it switches to "power" mode and goes balls-first (ooh err) and constant speed reverts to what seems to me to be more economical heel first stride.

    Just take off your shoes and socks and try jogging on the spot (which is pretty the definition of the slowest possible run).

    It's not even remotely like a slow run though, in order to move forward you need forward leaning, a little. We're trying to reduce gait analysis to "this is how you should run, at any speed or instant". That's simply rubbish and not how it works.

    IanMunro
    Member

    /ignore double post

    IanMunro
    Member

    It's not even remotely like a slow run though, in order to move forward you need forward leaning, a little

    Excatly. You lean forward slightly. That's not going to make you start landing heel first. You're only going to start landing heel first with the combination of sticking your feet out infront of your centre of gravity and relying on a shoe to take that initial impact. If you run barefoot then you just don't do it, it hurts and doesn't feel natural – because it isn't. That doesn't mean that your heel doesn't touch the ground, just that it isn't the first point of contact.

    surfer
    Member

    It may be more economical too you however it appears to be rather unnatural to most others in this thread, maybe you have become accustomed to running on you heel however that doesnt make it natural or efficient.

    A sprinter only accelarates through the first 20-30 metres? then resists the overwhelming force to slow down. Why does he cross the line on his forefoot if his body is slowing?
    The image of Haille or Ovett dont show him hitting the ground I was illustraiting the movement in its most exagerated. Are you suggesting as both athletes near the ground their foot changes direction to land heel first? That would be very unnatural and I know (having the pleasure of being overtaken by Mr Ovett) not the case. Both athletes run on their forefoot.

    because it's the path of least resistance.

    This statement is incorrect. It is less resistance to run on the forefoot, or at least around the midfoot as many studies have shown. Heel first has a braking affect.
    There also appears to be a positive relationship between performance and forefoot strike. In short slower runners are more likely to heel strike, faster runners forefoot strike.

    When I was younger every time I built up my running to a decent frequency and distance I got really sore shins so basically gave up on it. Couple of years ago I tried running again and this time it wasn't just my shins but back, knees, ankles that were giving me gyp. I reckoned it couldn't just be old age so examined my running style and decided I'd been heel strike running which was encouraging me to run flat footed. I then changed to running using my fore foot which gave me some bounce in my stride and imediately my times improved by 30%. Took me 2-3 months to develop my achillies to the point where it stopped aching though.

    ahwiles
    Member

    Fuzzywuzzy:

    So somewhere in between you switch from one to the other and this debate is more about what speed you transition at? I've not tried but I imagine a slow jog it would feel pretty odd trying to land on your fore-foot?

    running and walking are different, not just variations of speed.

    try running on the spot with a heel strike – how much slower can you go than running on the spot?

    try running with a heel strike in barefeet, it's only modern footwear that allows you do this. and lots of people (myself included) find that the action/shoes involved actually cause lots of problems.

    companies like reebok/nike/adidas/whoever would love to be able to present research showing that the more money you spend on shoes, the fewer injuries you will suffer, the problem they find is that everytime someone looks into this, the results are either inconclusive or very damning: running shoes are bad for you, and expensive ones are either no better, or sometimes worse.

    IanMunro
    Member

    Did I just over do it on the amount I used them or is it possible to run too much on your toes, if you see what I mean?
    matt_bi, probably too much too soon. If you've body's spent most of it's life running in a different way it's going to take a long time to adjust. All the muscles and tendons have been happily atrophying and have just had the shock of their life πŸ™‚ Generally distances of 1-2 miles would be considered the maximum to try at first and wait for the feet to strengthen, which is a frustrating short distance for fit runner. If you're training for a marathon in May, and your not injured then it's probably not worth bothering with changing style mid goal.

    nosemineb
    Member

    newton running
    I rather like this animated video on Newtons site. They have prbably exagerated the heel strike a bit but it makes sense of things for me.
    I dont work for newton, or run in there shoes exclusively but i have paid good money for their shoes so maybe a little biased.

    ahwiles
    Member

    Ian: this is exactly the dilemma i'm facing!

    i've a half marathon at the end of april, i don't know if can run that far running fore-foot in my asics tigers. i don't know if i can run that far running heel-strike in my nike airs.

    hmmm.

    FunkyDunc
    Member

    Listening to Radio 4 the other week there was an article on all the latest research point to modern shock absorbing trainers actually damaging peoples feet. They recockoned bare foot running was actually the best for your feet, and makes you run properly.

    There must be some thing in it as not one training shoe company would comment for the article

    coffeeking
    Member

    Excatly. You lean forward slightly. That's not going to make you start landing heel first.

    No, but to keep the speed up (rather than falling over) you need to place your foot forward. I suppose that just depends how far you lean and how fast you're running though.

    I'm not against the idea, I've just not found it matches how I run "naturally" and I'm pretty used to running about barefoot if I'm honest.

    This statement is incorrect. It is less resistance to run on the forefoot, or at least around the midfoot as many studies have shown. Heel first has a braking affect.

    Heel first would have a braking effect if you impacted without hard and at a fairly high angle, but I'm not sure the angle of incidence is much of 90 when running on your heels. While you might assume that a smoother impact on the forefoot would not give a braking effect, you're still having to tense and load the calf to support it when you otherwise wouldn't (as much)? There's a positive relationship, but who says whether it's causal or consequential?

    I'm open to ideas, and do normally assume that "natural" is usually the best option (we only use shoes due to damage from surfaces) but when running on grass I don't run "on my toes", when when running down the beach I land heel first unless sprinting or really soft sand. I just haven't seen this natural tendency to land that way, and knowing that just having the wrong support in my shoes makes me take notice of my foot position and angles, I'd have thought a shoe subconsciously forcing me to land heel first would have been a nightmare.

    This probably partially explains why I was always able to sprint the 100m in 11 secs but couldn't push past 400 without dying πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    To run at a constant speed you are not accelerating unless you class your air resistance as a major force

    Not really. You are constantly accelerating upwards as you push off, and gravity brings you back down. Acceleration in a vertical direction. Otherwise, running at constant 10mph would be as easy as riding a bike at constant 10mph.. and as we all know it isn't!

    And as for the 'natural' way, the above reference to barefoot running are correct. It's not natural to run with a Nike Air under your heel, and that's only there to enable you to heel run. I have lovely cushioning on the heels of my shoes, and I didn't even touch it when toe running. If you want natural, take your shoes off and go run on some grass. See how much you heel strike then – if you do, then that's your natural gait. And btw that thumping sound in your ears could well be your brain wobbling about in your skull πŸ™‚

    coffeeking
    Member

    Not really. You are constantly accelerating upwards as you push off, and gravity brings you back down. Acceleration in a vertical direction. Otherwise, running at constant 10mph would be as easy as riding a bike at constant 10mph.. and as we all know it isn't!

    Obviously, I was discounting vertical accel as you need to put the same effort into that no matter how you're running or you merge with the floor πŸ˜€

    If you want natural, take your shoes off and go run on some grass. See how much you heel strike then – if you do, then that's your natural gait. And btw that thumping sound in your ears could well be your brain wobbling about in your skull

    As I say, I regularly do run (not for the sake of running) barefoot, never noticed it being forefoot based though. The thumping in my ears is my pulse due to lack of fitness, I assure you πŸ™‚

    surfer
    Member

    I'd have thought a shoe subconsciously forcing me to land heel first would have been a nightmare.

    Most shoes dont force this but they bring it about for a couple of reasons:
    Firstly they "build" up the area of the heel which means if the forefoot striking first is quite subtle then the larger and pronounced heel area makes contact first. If the shoe was totally flat or without any midsole that encouragement would not exist.
    They are also marketed in a way that actively encourages "cushioning" as being required, cushionless shoes would be more difficult to market (although the ones with the toes seem to be achieving this!)

    Running is a popular pastime and companies need to make money out of it so they have to appear to give us something, bigger and bulkier shoes, changing materials, styles etc is a way of doing that. There has to be a market to be captured.

    surfer
    Member

    As for running barefoot I once finished 4th in a XC race shoeless after forgetting my racing shoes. I ran OK with the only downside being very sore feet later that evening whilst trying to dance!!!

    coffeeking
    Member

    Your shoe design points do make sense, higher heel would automatically put the heel down first, encouraging that I suppose.

    Maybe it's time to try some 5 fingers, I like the look of them anyway πŸ™‚

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Coffeeking, I PMed you.. check your hotmail.. πŸ™‚

    nosemineb
    Member

    Another [possibly] converted to the cult, Well done people! 8)
    Give us some feedback if you get the vibrams.

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