Benefits of Front Foot Running

Muscular man running on beach
Forefoot running reduces the impact on your knees. (Image: Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Front foot running simply means that when you land, you strike on your forefoot instead of your heel or midfoot. People who practice forefront running may experience fewer injuries and be able to run at faster speeds than those who practice other forms, since this stride is more natural for your body. However, easing into this type of running can be a slow process, and transitioning too quickly can be painful.

Shock Absorption

When you strike on your forefoot, your body absorbs the shock more easily. This is because forefoot runners make contact with the ground while keeping their ankles and knees bent, as well as their hip joints slightly open, thereby creating a natural method of shock absorption. When you land on your heel, your ankle is retracted, so it cannot absorb the impact. Instead, your knees absorb the bulk of the stress, and this can result in knee injuries, as well as strains on the tendons in your feet. Your forefoot is also wider than your heel, and landing on it instead increases the surface that absorbs the impact, reducing the shock.

Increased Speed

In a traditional heel-strike, you are relying on your shoes to absorb the shock. This also causes the heels of your shoes to act like brake pads, which makes your stride less efficient, slowing you down. With forefoot running, you are placing little to no weight in your heel, allowing a smoother transition from stride to stride, thereby increasing your speed and overall performance. However, because it takes time to transition to forefoot running, you will not likely notice an increase in your speed until you become accustomed to the new form. In fact, it is likely that you will run more slowly when you first begin using a forefoot technique.

Getting Started

You will need to transition to forefoot running slowly. This type of stride uses muscles you may not be accustomed to working, and doing too much too soon can lead to major setbacks. For at least the first month, do not run more than two to three miles a week on your forefeet, completing the rest of your miles with a traditional stride. You can purchase shoes designed for forefoot running or stick with your old ones, as long as they are comfortable for this technique. You might start by jogging in place, and discuss proper technique with a licensed trainer to reduce the likelihood of injury due to poor form.

Drawbacks and Precautions

Forefoot running also has its drawbacks, particularly when you are first starting out. You may experience soreness in your quadriceps, Achilles tendons and shins, and it may take up to a year for you to fully transition in your technique. This can lead to frustration, which may provoke you to attempt forefoot running more quickly, which can in turn lead to injury, strain and more soreness. Do not attempt to transition your stride if you have a current injury. If you suffer from a chronic injury or pain, discuss forefoot running with a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor before attempting it.

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