A heel striker is someone who lands with their heel before their entire foot makes contact with the ground. It’s not uncommon for people’s strides and where their feet land to change slightly throughout a run or from run to run. Runners who strike the ground with their heels most of the time do so with their heel first. This is a controversial debate, though, because it’s not clear if it’s good or bad. Natural heel strikers shouldn’t worry about getting injured too often.
Meanwhile, if you always experience knee pain after running, you may want to consider experimenting with a mid- or forefoot stride to see if that helps. In this guide, we are going to talk about each and everything about How To Transition From Heel Strike to Midfoot Strike or how to correct heel strike running in case if you have it.
Table of Contents
- What is a Heel Strike?
- What is MidFoot Strike?
- Key Difference Between Heel Strike vs Midfoot Strike Running
- Is It Bad to Heel Strike When You Run?
- Here are common injuries with Heel Strike Running
- Does Heel Strike Slow You Down?
- Why Should You Do the Transition from Heel Striking to Midfoot Striking?
- How to Correct Heel Strike Running: Transition from Heel Strike to Midfoot Strike
What is a Heel Strike?
The term heel striker has recently been used by more and more athletes to describe how they land when participating in dynamic activities, like running. This is a bit of a generic term; it refers to the bottom portion of the foot landing first in this scenario. There are three different types of contact in dynamic activities like running, and each impacts stride way differently.
If the heel touches the ground upon landing, it is a heel-first landing. Depending on how well you land on your heel and the speed at which you’re running, you can create one or more types of shocks. When you strike your heel, you will feel less cushioning in the shoe as the impact is not as direct as when you strike your midfoot.
What is MidFoot Strike?
In midfoot striking, the bodyweight is evenly distributed around the ankle, hip, back, and knees as the striker land in the center of their foot. Running efficiently and at a fast pace may come naturally to midfoot runners. Additionally, you might get pain in your foot, ankle, or Achilles at some point when running midfoot.
Key Difference Between Heel Strike vs Midfoot Strike Running
There are some key mechanical differences between heel strikes and midfoot strikes.
With midfoot striking, the striker lands on the center of their foot, with their body weight evenly distributed around their ankles, hips, back, and knees. Midfoot runners may be at their best when it comes to running efficiently and at speed. A midfoot runner may also experience foot, ankle, or Achilles pain occasionally.
Those who strike with their heels first hit the ground with the rest of their foot after the heels hit the ground. Knees can be put under additional strain as a result. Running heel strike can lead to knee and hip pain, which could be more common with heel strike running.
Is It Bad to Heel Strike When You Run?
Not necessarily. Running with your heels down may put you at higher risk of certain injuries. Harvard University researchers found, in a smaller study conducted in 2012, that heel strikers suffered more mild to moderate repetitive stress injuries later in the year than forefoot strikers.
The journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published another study in 2013 that indicated runners who strike their heels more frequently are more likely to suffer running knee injuries.
There are still injuries that can happen to mid and forefoot runners, just differently than injuries that can happen to heel strikers. Researchers found that midfoot and forefoot strikers were more likely to injure their ankles or Achilles tendons.
Here are common injuries with Heel Strike Running
Several studies in sports medicine have shown that a bad heel striking style can cause injuries. The following injuries appear to be associated with heel striking:
- A heel strike that leads to excessive pronation can also lead to injury in the Achilles.
- Running with a heel strike places more stress on the IT band since the heel stays on the ground a longer period of time.
- Runners who commonly strike their heels will more likely suffer from knee problems.
- The heel striker is also more likely to complain of leg cramps and lower leg pain than those who strike their feet with the forefoot or midfoot.
However, many athletes run with a heel strike without facing health problems, pain or difficulty. Running with a heel strike is probably not bad if you do not experience pain. We can then say that it is correct heel strike running. incase you can read how to correct heel strike running in our article as well.
Does Heel Strike Slow You Down?
Regardless of whether heel strikers are faster or more efficient when running, a meta-analysis of 53 studies found that heel strikers have no advantages or disadvantages when it comes to speed or efficiency.
Another observation is mixed. One study of 1,991 marathon runners carried out by a trusted Source in 2013 indicated that elite runners had lower heel striking rates compared to other runners. Additionally, the results of the study confirmed what other research had observed: The majority of runners run with their heels striking the ground.
Research determines that whether runners with different foot strikes will experience any advantage during their races.
Why Should You Do the Transition from Heel Striking to Midfoot Striking?
If you hit the ground only with your heel at the start of your run, you’re likely running with your lower body balanced in an incorrect way, which leads to ankle and foot health problems. Running with this kind of posture will not put your body through a lot of movement, nor will it help you build up and utilize strength in the lower body.
This article will help you decide whether you should switch from a heel-to-midfoot strike if you usually land with your heel on the ground. During your run, try to land on your midfoot. Throughout your run, keep that pattern and you will be able to transition from heel striking to midfoot striking. The habit of striking the heel will likely develop after a few runs in this new way.
How to Correct Heel Strike Running: Transition from Heel Strike to Midfoot Strike
How to transition from heel strike to midfoot strike is probably the most common question people ask. Wearing shoes with less structure may be helpful for modifying your foot strike. The foot’s flexibility tends to be decreased by stability shoes. It is believed that your foot will strike the ground with a more natural footstrike if you wear a shoe with less structure, like a minimalist shoe.
Transitioning too quickly from a cushioned shoe, stability shoe, or even a neutral shoe is not recommended. If you move from a shoe that gives you a lot of control to one that is very fast, you may end up injured.
It would be best for you to drastically reduce the mileage you run in the minimalist shoe from what you normally do. You should start by running 1-2 miles in your minimalist shoes once your normal run length is 3-4 miles. It’s probably less than that.
One way to transition your strike is to perform speed work in a racing flat or track shoe. You should warm up with your old training shoes before you do this. A person’s natural strike during sprinting is either the forefoot or the midfoot. As you run, pay attention to the way your foot hits the ground.
Try to keep some forefoot striking after you have finished sprinting on the track. You can also transition to running barefoot by running barefoot. Sand, grass, and soft dirt are the most popular surfaces for running barefoot. You should carefully increase your mileage, starting low and easing into it.
Prepare yourself for the run by performing some drills 5 minutes before you start. Here are some examples of drills:
- The side-shuffle
- running backward
Drills such as these may help you to better comprehend your positioning since you will land midfoot or front foot.
Consider running in grass or some other soft surface barefoot. It’s likely that the motion will feel different without a shoe, which will give you a better understanding of how you can run most effectively.
Make Changes Gradually
You should gradually change your running form. As your form changes a few minutes each week, increase the time you spend doing it. Maintaining your health and preventing injuries will help you achieve that.
How to Transition from Heel Strike to Midfoot Strike?
To change the direction of your landing, you first have to change the way you strike your heel. The best way to proceed is as follows. Walking along a narrow lane with walls on both sides, imagine you’re walking along a narrow lane. You would land on the very edge of your heel if you jumped over the wall. It would be impossible for you to climb the wall. However, if you land on the outer half of your feet instead, you will still be able to jump over the wall, but you will not be as high.
If you fell off the wall, you would die. Thus, if you want to improve your landing technique, you should first learn to land on the outside of your foot (as opposed to landing on your midfoot).
At what point in the running stride does the ideal transition between heel strikes and midfoot strikes occur? Depending on the individual. You may find that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. Your best option for determining which foot strike type is right for you is to do an evaluation since this will help you figure out your own running style.
Researchers haven’t found much evidence to support why runners shouldn’t land on their heels. Changing your foot strike position is one change you can make if you are suffering from knee pain or other injuries frequently.
To avoid straining other parts of your leg or foot, if you need to change either of them, make sure you do so slowly and gradually. It is possible to make a running plan that is safe and effective for you with the help of a podiatrist, physical therapist, or running coach.