How to improve your foot strike technique for optimum running performance
When it comes to running technique, the old-school view was that running technique is either something you’re born with, or not.
More recently it’s believed technique is something that can be taught and although I believe this, I would steer clear of changing your technique too much. Tweaks are fine, but changing your style altogether may result in more injuries and lost motivation.
Everyone is different when it comes to foot strike – landing on your forefoot, mid-foot striking or heel striking.
Generally speaking, those who heel strike have greater forces radiating through the quads and glutes, so if you have calf and achilles problems this may be the way forward for you.
A mid-foot strike may offer a smoother transition in running stride and is a good compromise between heel and forefoot forces.
On the flip side, running on your forefoot loads up your plantar fascia, your Achilles and calf muscles. This may be ideal for people with ITB or gluteal tendinopathy, as the loads are being taken away from the knee and hips. There is no evidence to show any one of these foot strike patterns causes more injuries than the other. Find what’s comfortable for you and stick to it!
There are a lot of technique drills you can do to adapt your landing foot strike. Some great drills to include are:
- Butt kicks as they engage the hamstrings and accentuate the recovery portion of the running gait
- High knees as they accentuate knee lift, glutes and hamstring power, all of which are key to running fast and efficiently as well as powerful leg drive
- Bounding as it increases foot, calf and hamstring power and develops single leg stability
- Grapevines as they loosen hip flexors and glutes while increasing hip, leg and gluteal mobility.