I have, unfortunately experienced this first-hand but feel ‘glad’ to read that apparently this type of running injury is not exclusive to amateur runners, like me, but to more professional ones, too.
The latest running research data has confirmed what many of us know, in theory, but find to hard to apply: landing on the ball of the foot rather than the heel puts significantly less demand on the body and protects from injuries. However, a more important finding than this was the use of minimalist shoes rather than ones with cushioning.
‘Researchers compared how quickly the force acts when runners’ feet hit the ground — known as the loading rate — which has been shown to influence running injury risk.’
They examined the running techniques of 29 athletes and found that those who wore minimal running shoes showed significantly lower loading rates regardless of whether they landed on the ball of their foot or heel.
Lead author Dr Hannah Rice, of the University of Exeter, said: “So many people use running as a means of reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but about three quarters of runners typically get injured in a year. Footwear is easily modifiable but many runners are misguided when it comes to buying new running shoes. This research shows that running in minimal shoes and landing on the balls of your feet reduces loading rates and may therefore reduce the risk of injury.”
Very commonly, runners who wear cushioned shoes tend to land on their heel – known as a ‘rearfoot strike’ – while those who use less cushioned, minimal shoes tend to land on the ball of their foot – known as a ‘forefoot strike’. Rearfoot strike runners experience an abrupt vertical impact force each time the foot lands on the ground.
This impact force is often missing when running with a forefoot strike, but previous research has shown that forward/backwards and sideways forces can be higher with a forefoot strike, meaning the total force is similar. Total force seems to be similar between foot strikes if wearing modern, cushioned running shoes.
Dr Rice said: “Our research tells us that becoming accustomed to running with a forefoot strike in shoes that lack cushioning promotes a landing with the lowest loading rates, and this may be beneficial in reducing the risk of injury” (Source: HANNAH M. RICE, STEVE T. JAMISON, IRENE S. DAVIS. Footwear Matters. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2016; Science Daily)