Perfect Landing: How Should Your Foot Hit the Ground?

While a majority of experts agree on most of the tenets of good running, footstrike remains a sticking point. There seems to be a conflict on how and where your foot should hit the ground. There is a significant difference between running on your forefoot, a midfoot-striking gait and heel striking. Moreover, while various studies can give differing conclusions, the impact varies quite a lot with each individual. So what is the best way for your foot to hit the ground? Let us find out!

According to various studies, 50 to 80 percent of runners are injured each year. Many of these injuries happen because of the runner applying too much force repeatedly. One way of reducing your chances of being injured is to run with the least musculoskeletal stress with the least metabolic cost. One of the most important things for you is to make sure that your feet land as close to your body as possible, for a given pace. Forcing your body into specific forefoot strike might make you able to instantly decrease the amount of biomechanical strain and impact force. However, you need to be careful as you might be pushing yourself to overstride, making you work harder and eventually reducing your running economy.

 

The Perfect Landing

For the perfect landing, it is important to shorten your stride and land closer to your forefoot instead of heel striking. According to independent surveys, injuries like the plantar fasciitis were very rare in people landing closer to their forefoot. However, lower-leg injuries were more coming, such as Achilles tendinitis. So what can you do? The best solution is to focus on everything that can improve your form and the risk of injuries will automatically diminish. Below are some quick tips on how to improve your form and your running efficiency:

  • Get Rid Of Arched Lower Backs. It has been observed that many runners run with arched lower backs. This posture puts body weight excessively far back. To get out of the ‘back seat’, you should run in lighter shoes with flatter heel-toe ramp. You should also maintain an upright posture, which is leaning slightly forward.
  • Have Landings Closer To Your Body. Many runners run with dramatic heel-striking gait because they are overstriding. Have your feet hit the ground closer to your body by shortening your strides while at the same time increasing your stride cadence.
  • Try A Variety Of Surfaces To Run On. Your body adjusts and figures out how you should be landing better when there are more surfaces available to you to land on that are not smooth and flat. It is not possible for everyone to have access to undulating trails with rough surfaces. Try to vary your runs by having runs through grass parks or over rough concrete.
  • Be Soft With Running. A rule of thumb for all runners is to try to run with as minimal impact as possible, with the help of light footstrikes. While being a heel striker is not necessarily a bad thing, it can mean that your lower leg muscles are being overworked to be able to control the lowering down of the forefoot. This results in many shin splits to runners around the world. If you are prone to shin splits, you should shorten your strides so that your feet are landing closer to your body, increasing your cadence and running upright.

We hope this offers some clarity. Please let us know in the comments section if you have some suggestions of your own. We also found this article on Runners World very helpful. Make sure you check our challenges and sign up for them, especially the 25 Mile Challenge.

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