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Running Footstrike: Rearfoot, Midfoot or Forefoot, Which is Best? Lecture by Dr. Kevin Kirby

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Kevin Kirby, Aug 3, 2014.

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    I have spent quite a bit of time over the past month putting together a new lecture on footstrike patterns in running which is now available for viewing on YouTube and which I gave at a local running shoe store here in Sacramento on July 30, 2014..

    This video is meant to supplement my article that was published a few months ago, Emerging Evidence on Footstrike Patterns in Running, and my recent Podcast on Footstrike Patterns in Running.

    Hope you enjoy it and please feel free to circulate it to your colleagues and patients so that we can all help dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about footstrike patterns in runners.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  2. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  3. Blaise Dubois

    Blaise Dubois Active Member

    Is RFS really more economical?
    Need to convince me. No cherry pick please
  4. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    Without doing an exact count, my best guess of the evidence is that 1/3rd of the studies show forefoot/midfoot is more economical; 1/3rd show heel striking; and another 1/3rd show no difference....
    ....conclusion: its probably subject specific and no one can make blanket statements that one way is systematically better than another.
  5. BEN-HUR

    BEN-HUR Well-Known Member

    True... this is (or should be) one of the most important issues to be learned from the barefoot/"minimalist" saga. Mixed in with this (& complicating or frustrating matters further) is the issue of human will/desire/passion mixed with emotion & ignorance. That meaning (from my personal perception), the emotion of i.e. excitement in trying something new/different... along with ignorance of one’s own physiological status has contributed to the problems/confusion within this topic. The fact is that some people are suited to midfoot striking & some are suited to rearfoot striking (very rarely seen a habitual true forefoot runner off the synthetic track). However, I feel habitual patterns are also subjected to the history of footwear & the nature of shoe which could influence footstrike patterns i.e. the 10 - 12mm heel to forefoot midsole differential which has been present for the past 30 odd years - hence influencing generations of runners (habitual footstrike) from their start into running as children & along into adulthood i.e. 12mm midsole pitch encouraging heel striking from a young age (when neuropathways are being entrenched) – hence contributing to the evident prevalence we see today of rearfoot strikers. [Is this level of foot attire influence detrimental? I think it well could be for some]

    Problems then arise when rearfoot runners attempt midfoot running when they are not suited to it, or not suited to it within the time period they are attempting it (same applies to footwear changes from the traditional 12mm pitch to a 8, 6, 4mm pitch or lower)... whereby meeting their injury threshold & then making conclusions & subsequent blanket statements from their experiences. This has happened from both perspectives sending out polarised views on the topic... subsequently expressing these views on the internet (or a book)... whereby exciting more will/passion, emotion & ignorance... sometimes even anger!

    I'm primarily a midfoot striker (on flat surface; heel strike on a decline, forefoot strike on an incline... varying according to the degree of ground gradient) & doing so within a "minimalist" type shoe. However, there are many patients I see that could not do this (due to i.e. adverse structural integrity)... or could not do this without substantial reconditioning of the body... then is it worth changing at that stage of their lives/career (when entrenched neuropathways have been developed... & thus new pathways needing to be reformed); note: Alberto Salazar & Dathan Ritzenhein issue.

    One other note regarding studies done whereby testing efficiency on differing (changing) footstrike patterns within runners is that it would stand to reason that a runner would be less metabolically efficient within the test period when they are not running their habitual footstrike... thus such findings doesn’t necessary mean that their non-habitual footstrike (i.e. midfoot) is less efficient for them... it potentially could be in the future... but their past footwear history over many years (& many thousands of miles & many more thousands of foot strikes) has influenced their current habitual (neuropathway) strike pattern... potentially affecting the true result.

    In general... we human beings are too complex for single answers... & thus be subjected to polarised views on such topics without the potential for confusion/frustration being the result in light of the empirical evidence (i.e. to be faster & injury free – be a heel striker, or conversely – be a midfoot striker... neither just isn’t the case for blanket statements).

    Anyway, when I get some more time I'll check out the video in full. Checked out the first half so far – interesting that the runner truly forefoot striking in the 2012 Olympic Trial video (at 16min. of vid.) is also the only runner sporting calf compression socks. Thanks for contributing your time & views on this Kevin.

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