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more toward the forefoot side
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Joined: 4th Apr
I’ve written a lot about
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foot strike variability over the years, but I still see people make claims that heel striking is bad, or that barefoot and minimally shod runners don’t land on their heels.
Personally, I view foot strike as one aspect of running form that varies with a range of factors. These factors would include running
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speed, running experience, surface hardness, surface incline, fatigue, footwear type or the lack thereof, etc. For example, I think we tend to see a shift more toward the forefoot side of the spectrum when experienced runners run fast on hard surfaces, particularly
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if barefoot. We see a shift more toward the heel strike side when inexperienced runners run slowly on soft surfaces or in heavily cushioned footwear. Mix and match these factors and we can get a variety of different foot strike types, and it’s unlikely that any one set of
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conditions will yield identical responses
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in all runners exposed to them (because people are variable).
As an example of the influence of both external variables on running foot strike and individual variability within the same condition, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a research
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study that was published last year. Authored by Daniel Lieberman, the study takes a look at foot strike patterns among traditionally shod and conventionally shod Tarahumara Native Americans from Mexico (full text is available here). The running prowess of the Tarahumara
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was made famous by Christopher McDougall in his book Born to Run. That book, published in 2009, was largely responsible for kicking off the form and footwear debates that ensued over the following years, and the Tarahumara thus make for a great running form case study.This study examined variation in foot
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strike types, lower extremity kinematics, and arch height and stiffness among Tarahumara Indians from the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico.
High speed video was used to study the kinematics of 23 individuals, 13 who habitually wear traditional minimal running sandals
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(huaraches), and 10 who habitually wear modern, conventional running shoes with elevated, cushioned heels and arch support. Measurements of foot shape and arch stiffness were taken on these individuals plus an additional sample of 12 individuals.
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