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Running myths and misconceptions exposed!

Unlike most superheroes (we're not superheroes), we do not possess any superpowers (unless irony and satire is a superpower!). We make use (to the best that we can) of intellect, detective skills, science and technology (3D) physical prowess (and photoshop) to help rid the city of misconceptions to help bring the truth to the people! These days, it's really tricky for anyone to follow advice in magazines or forums as R&D (research and development) in the past 2 years (maybe?) has gone supernova in the world of biomechanics causing much of the material given 2 years ago to appear to be dated and somewhat incorrect. At StrideUK, our intention is to expose certain running related assumptions (often anatomy related) that just may not hold water in todays understanding of movement. You decide!

Heel Striking (running misconception no 232)

Heel striking

Heel striking has been rubber-stamped as to why we get knee pain and 'wear and tear' because you're landing on the back of your foot (arthritis is wear and tear). Many health professionals also took reference from watching marathons claiming 'look at how the leading runners land' in comparison to 'how the runners at the back land' suggesting that most elites run forefoot and novices heelstrike. It's in our belief that these assumptions created a surge of calf  / achillies cases in clinics up and down the country.  And although there is an element of truth to both theories, this rule simply cannot apply to all runners (most runners!). One main reason you may wish to avoid going 'forefoot'  is because by reducing some of the greatest landing mechanisms that the whole foot can offer running from heel to toe, the responsibility to cater for downforce creates greater loading into the calves. This could be achievable if you're young, bullet proof, made of rubber and immortal. But not always achievable if you're relatively new to running, 30 years plus, or carrying a few extra pounds!  So although heel striking may not be as efficient as forefoot, you may not arrive anywhere faster, but it's close to a certainly that you'll get there more comfortably, if anything you have a better chance of arriving their at all!   

Heel striking variables

If heel striking was to be the culprit behind knee pain and arthritic conditions. Is it possible for the concequences to be less severe based on what degree you land on your heel? Do you think that a light 'grazing' of the heel (top left) is likely to create less breaking forces in comparison to 'digging a divot' into the ground as if you're going to perform a place kick! (bottom right). Is it also possible that a running shoe with a greater amount of cushioning on the heel is likely to appear that you are heelstriking where in fact it's nothing more than an EVA inititiation with the ground! What if your knee was bent creating a softer lever when you're landing on the back of the foot? Surely there's more better ways to heelstrike than worse ways to heelstrike, which would then question whether we can be pigeonholing the entire heelstriking conundrum.

Contact time

Reasons why we may migrate you away from 'Heel Striking'

The main reason why we would promote you to migrate from ‘heel striking’ to more ‘Mid foot landing’ would principally be to help reduce your ‘Contact time’. Contact time is measured in seconds (under quarter of seconds we hope!). This is the duration from initial contact of the foot to the ground to termination (toe off). Usually a longer contact time is triggered by an overstride (extended footstrike position), which means the further you place your foot in front of your centre of mass, the longer it takes for it to travel under the body to eventually leave the ground again. A longer contact time also generates a greater level of ‘ground force resistance’  which is also known as ‘breaking force’ (which ideally is best to reduce as it slows you down!). Contact time / overstride / breaking force also appears to commonly found with rear footstrike type (often referred to as ‘heel striking’). Contact time can often be improved through increasing ‘Stride Frequency’ (Cadence!).
And if you managed to digest all that in one go... please apply for a position with us!

New titles coming soon!

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