In recent years, there has been much debate on the right way a runner foot should strike the ground. The three ways for your foot to strike the ground during running is rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot. Most runners, about 80%, strike the ground with their heel first, which is called rearfoot running. Striking the ground with your foot flat is midfoot running and running on the balls of your feet or toes is called forefoot running. So now that you know the different ways to strike the ground during running, let’s explore which one is more efficient and prevents injury. You will notice that this commentary does not include sprinting since most people strike with their forefoot.
Research shows most recreational runners are rearfoot strikers but, the majority of elite distance runners are forefoot or midfoot runners. Rearfoot running causes a lot of impact forces with each heel strike. Most of those forces go right up to your knees, hips and back. With the repetitive nature of running these forces can cause knee, hip, and back injuries over time. With rearfoot running, your foot is reaching down for the ground, which makes the momentum of your upper body go behind your foot and ankle. This will cause you to be slower over time. Forefoot running uses a lot more calf strength and puts greater stress on your great toe, Achilles tendon, ankle joint and calf, as compared to rearfoot running. Studies have shown that the amount of forces on the body is about the same with rearfoot and forefoot running but is felt in different areas of the body. Midfoot running allows your foot to better absorb forces during running and puts less stress on your ankle, knee, hip and back, as compared to rearfoot and forefoot running. With midfoot running your foot is moving backwards when your strike the ground, which allows your momentum your upper body move to forward. This will allow you to be more efficient while running and prevent injury.