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How your footwork affects your running efficiency Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I have heard that there is a difference between heel-strike running and mid-foot running. Can you explain?

THE ANSWER

The most obvious difference between running styles has to do with the portion of your foot that makes initial contact with the ground. In heel-strike running you land on your heel, then roll forward though your mid-foot and finally push off with your toes. In mid-foot running, the middle portion of the foot hits the ground first. This allows the runner to bypass the time they waste landing on their heel.

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Instead, the athlete can immediately push off with their toes, which facilitates a higher leg turnover rate per minute. This gives the runner the potential to run faster, with less effort.

The other difference between the two running styles is the location of your foot in relation to your body when it hits the ground.

When you heel strike, your foot hits the ground slightly in front of your body. This causes minute breaking actions and pushes you slightly backward with every foot strike. Your body has to use extra muscular force to resist the backward push and propel you forward.

With mid-foot running your foot lands directly under the hips, and helps maintain your forward momentum.

Special note: If you are interested in adopting a mid-foot running style, talk to a running coach and read up on the subject so you can make the transition to a new running style slowly and safely.

Trainer’s tip

If you’re a recreational runner, don't disregard this column because you think you don't need to be aware of subtle changes in running form. Whether you run for one minute or two hours, proper running form can minimize the amount of work your body has to do, and reduce your risk of injury.





Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at trainer@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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