What is the biggest misconception when it comes to running biomechanics? We asked Run SMART coach Nikki Reiter, who is a Master of Human Kinetics. She had a very short answer, “Read this: Myths of Running: Forefoot, Barefoot and Otherwise.”
We also emailed our head coach Dr. Jack Daniels, who certainly knows a thing or two about the subject as well. Here’s what the doctor had to say:
I conducted some fairly extensive research on footstrike during running. We had a number of runners (both male and female) run at comfortably-hard paces on a treadmill, and collected expired air samples in order to calculate oxygen consumption (running economy). Each subject ran a test using rearfoot strike, another using midfoot strike, a 3rd test using forefoot strike and a 4th test using what they felt was their normal footstrike.
Overall, rearfoot striking was most economical, but not to the extent of being statistically significant. Midfoot and “normal” were both better than forefoot, but again, not statistically significantly so. Two subjects who had always run forefoot were more economical running rearfoot and one subject who had always run rearfoot was more economical running forefoot. Maybe it depends on individual biomechanical structure; maybe smaller feet work better fore-footed; who knows?
Certainly, it’s a misconception to say heel striking is bad and certainly it’s not as simple as telling someone to heel strike or strike with their forefoot or midfoot either.