Discussion

Image of Ken Bob's foot landing while running on treadmill

To Foot Strike or Not to Foot Strike?

From YouTube messages to Ken Bob:

…is it natural for you to walk with a midfoot strike or do you still walk with your heel on the ground first?

Ken Bob’s Answer:

In my opinion, walking and running both use the same basic technique. the only technical difference is when you achieve “flight” where both feet are off the ground at some point during the stride – that is by definition “running”. But this is irrelevant unless you are a race-walker where the rules require that one or the other foot is touching the ground at all time (no running). But no foot races that I know of require that one “runs” the entire time or distance. Walking is fine during a marathon, or even a 5K – though you may not win the 5K if you walk very much of the distance.

Anyway…

It’s not natural to “try” to land with any specific foot “strike” while walking or running. It is natural to try to reduce impact and abrasion as felt by the bare sole while walking and running. My techniques are based on what I have learned by “listening” to my soles while running barefoot for more than 60 years.

  1. the foot should land gently, no striking
  2. how the foot lands is determined more by how your body is moving and whether you are letting your knees bend or not.
  3. If you are trying to force a forefoot landing, then you’re probably not paying attention to bending the knees, keeping your torso vertical, and moving the torso forward (rather than bouncing up and down)
  4. If you are focusing on landing, then you’re more likely to push your foot into the ground, while launching your body up and crashing back down again.
  5. Foot lift is more important to think about than landing. Lifting the foot is less work than launching the body up. Gravity will take care of pulling your foot/body back to the ground.

How Basics

see How.BarefootRunning.com for more details

  1. bent knees
  2. vertical torso
  3. move your torso forward (hips too, not leaning)
  4. let your feet “chase” your body

This should result in a gentle landing of the foot, with a more even distribution of loading (not impact).

Video

In a video of me running on treadmill in Dr. Daniel Lieberman’s lab (as well as videos of some Africans who never wore shoes as children), when the ball of the foot lands, the heel is barely off the ground (maybe a millimeter or two), and immediately lands after the ball-of-foot contacts the ground. This distributes the loading of body weight over the time of the landing, eliminating striking, impact, pounding, etc..

There is no attempt to land ball-of-foot first or to keep the heel up.

I do not concern myself, especially while walking, with whether or not my heel is landing first. I do concern myself if I feel any impact, slamming, pounding, skidding, scuffing, grinding, twisting, etc…

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