Change striking?

Options
TheBrolympus
TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
I have a nagging left knee issue that comes and goes. I have seen an ortho and he describes it as the early stages of arthritis (fun). So the way I run doesn't help, I am a heal striker with a long stride. Over the last 6-12 months I have shortened my stride and tried to increase my cadence. That has helped a little.

Last night while running, for some unknown reason I got up on my toes just a little bit more while running. And my knee did not hurt at all. This little change forced my foot to strike more on the mid-foot and fore-foot instead of heal. My stride shortened A LOT and my cadence went up. All things I have been working on. I only did it for the last 1/2 mile of my run so I am not how I would handle this change for longer distances yet.

So my question: Is is possible to change how your foot strikes? Am I just going to hurt myself somewhere else?

Anyone have an similar experiences trying to move away from heal striking?

Currently I am running 25-30 miles a week. It is very frustrating because my knee is limiting the miles I can run.

Replies

  • SillyC2
    SillyC2 Posts: 275 Member
    Options
    Good luck!

    Have you heard of Skora shoes? They have a rounded heel to encourage a midfoot strike. Love these shoes!
  • saskie78
    saskie78 Posts: 237 Member
    Options
    Yes! I have a nagging left knee that I'm always just trying to control. I try to avoid overstriding and heel striking. The best way I've found to do this is to think about keeping your feet under you when running and keeping just a little bit of bend in the knee. Almost impossible to heel strike with your knee a little bent. Also, I try to almost "sit back" a little, use my glutes, and tighten my core. The difficulty is that I can only do this on short and mid-distance runs. On the long ones, I just get too tired to keep that all up!
  • SonicDeathMonkey80
    SonicDeathMonkey80 Posts: 4,489 Member
    Options
    This was me 3 years ago. Heel striker, knee pain. A pair of Vibrams fixed that because it forced me to strike on the front. I didn't enjoy the shoes at all, but once I went back to regular trainers, the improved form stayed. I alternate strikes every couple miles now to reduce fatigue.
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
    Options
    Awesome, so this is doable!!!
  • _Josee_
    _Josee_ Posts: 625 Member
    Options
    Yes, I believe you can change it. It will takes a lot of work though.

    I'm a natural forefoot striker and I've never been a heel striker, so I can't offer any advice on how to transition... But I can say that it puts more ''pressure" on the calves and achilles. So just be careful on doing it progressively and maybe on shorter runs ?!?
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
    Options
    But I can say that it puts more ''pressure" on the calves and achilles. So just be careful on doing it progressively and maybe on shorter runs ?!?

    I was thinking this was going to take a little transition time since it was probably going to kill my calves. Luckily my calves are pretty strong from all the cycling I do. :)
  • sarahz5
    sarahz5 Posts: 1,363 Member
    Options
    Great advice! Tagging.
  • tappae
    tappae Posts: 568 Member
    Options
    Vibrams helped me stop overstriding as well. I'll still heel-strike in sturdier shoes if I'm not paying attention, but the vibrams allow less of that.
  • ZenInTexas
    ZenInTexas Posts: 781 Member
    Options
    I'm a heel striker too, I thought I was moving to more of a mid foot but after seeing some recent race photos I definitely am not. This is something I would love to change because I think it has a lot to do with my chronic injuries. Don't really know how to go about changing it though.
  • DavidMartinez2
    DavidMartinez2 Posts: 840 Member
    Options
    They drive me insane but Newtons are designed to promote a forefoot strike. There is a rocker piece that forces you to run the way you are describing. Strongly recommend building up slowly if you do buy a pair. You should also do some research into Chi running.
  • walterm852
    walterm852 Posts: 409 Member
    Options
    Sorry this is long, but here is my current story with cadence, someone may find it helpful, I think it saved my marathon efforts.

    I have not run in 8 years, before that, I ran for fitness to play other sports. Last summer began running 2-4 miles for a tough mudder (long run got to 8miles) and it went well. Thought Id give a marathon a shot, but when approaching 7+ miles in training, I started having issues with my right side (hamstring pull during speed work, calf, back, etc). I have a May 4th Marathon and had to rest 1 month from mid Jan to Feb. I did bridge work, planks, squats while up against the wall, monster walks and stretching while not running to build up weaker leg areas

    I went to have my gate checked and my left leg was fine, but my right stride was longer, ahead of hip, with a heel strike. He recommended cadence work, I checked out advice here too. I bought an app called Runner Drummer, went out and figured out my current steps per minute (138) and set Runner Drummer at 150, and ran 6 miles listening to a cow bell, lol... dink dink dink cracking up thinking of the SNL skit with Will Farrell and Christopher Walkin.

    Then I upped the cadence to 160 Thursday for a 7mile run, then 14miles and 11 miles, 80% of the miles I was listen to a bass drum beat. In the middle I listen to music but at the beginning and end, I definitely listen to change/keep my stride. As crazy as it sounds to just run to a beat like that I did it to change my stride. Its completely worked for me, no pain, no heel strike, feet under hip. The guy at the store was amazed when I went back to check because it changed dramatically in 2 weeks.

    A knee can be a lot of issues, but utilizing this cadence app to its fullest really helped
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
    Options
    You should also do some research into Chi running.

    Thanks, I had a B&N gift card burning a hole in my pocket. :)
  • TheBrolympus
    TheBrolympus Posts: 586 Member
    Options
    Sorry this is long, but here is my current story with cadence, someone may find it helpful, I think it saved my marathon efforts.

    I have not run in 8 years, before that, I ran for fitness to play other sports. Last summer began running 2-4 miles for a tough mudder (long run got to 8miles) and it went well. Thought Id give a marathon a shot, but when approaching 7+ miles in training, I started having issues with my right side (hamstring pull during speed work, calf, back, etc). I have a May 4th Marathon and had to rest 1 month from mid Jan to Feb. I did bridge work, planks, squats while up against the wall, monster walks and stretching while not running to build up weaker leg areas

    I went to have my gate checked and my left leg was fine, but my right stride was longer, ahead of hip, with a heel strike. He recommended cadence work, I checked out advice here too. I bought an app called Runner Drummer, went out and figured out my current steps per minute (138) and set Runner Drummer at 150, and ran 6 miles listening to a cow bell, lol... dink dink dink cracking up thinking of the SNL skit with Will Farrell and Christopher Walkin.

    Then I upped the cadence to 160 Thursday for a 7mile run, then 14miles and 11 miles, 80% of the miles I was listen to a bass drum beat. In the middle I listen to music but at the beginning and end, I definitely listen to change/keep my stride. As crazy as it sounds to just run to a beat like that I did it to change my stride. Its completely worked for me, no pain, no heel strike, feet under hip. The guy at the store was amazed when I went back to check because it changed dramatically in 2 weeks.

    A knee can be a lot of issues, but utilizing this cadence app to its fullest really helped

    Sounds very similar to what I am dealing with. I have been doing core work, planks, hip exercised, etc. to strengthen my hips, which were causing some of the problems. I also did some cadence runs a while back with a metronome app and after a couple of weeks I stopped because I moved my cadence from 156 to almost 170.

    Might be time to bust out the metronome app again. :) Ding ding ding ding ding...
  • TriLifter
    TriLifter Posts: 1,283 Member
    Options
    This was me 3 years ago. Heel striker, knee pain. A pair of Vibrams fixed that because it forced me to strike on the front. I didn't enjoy the shoes at all, but once I went back to regular trainers, the improved form stayed. I alternate strikes every couple miles now to reduce fatigue.

    Same...except I still run in Vibrams. They're the only things that feel good for me (I have flat feet and all other trainers freel uncomfortable).
  • GiddyupTim
    GiddyupTim Posts: 2,819 Member
    Options
    I've seen it said that changing your running style is really hard. But, here is a video, posted by the New York Times, of Chris McDougall, the Born to Run guy, describing this running practice technique that he found. It was developed by a very famous runner, Walter George.
    George could not run very often so he developed this indoor practice routine, and it has you get up on your toes.
    There is an article McDougall wrote about it, called "The once and future way to run."
    You can google that.
    Here is the video link:
    http://www.nytimes.com/video/magazine/100000001149415/the-lost-secret-of-running.html
    Hope it helps.
  • mjpTennis
    mjpTennis Posts: 6,165 Member
    Options
    It wasn't so much pain for me because I had not been running for very long when I came across the cadence and changing my strike, but it allowed me to progress as a runner - get faster, less stress on my body, and really enjoy the sport. My speed easily dropped a minute per mile within weeks of switching over.

    In the beginning there was some new muscle strengthening that took place. I found it easier to spend some time on the treadmill just to freeze the pace and really focus on the cadence. The chi running took it to a whole new level and I am still working on these pieces. I have learned some really nice ways to correct my posture when running, trigger points. Like toes down, tighten abs, head up, relax arms....just some simple things to remind me that it is much easier to run in this position. I reread the book every couple of months and find something new to focus on. Good luck.

    The really cool thing is that just by leaning forward and pulling through further on my kick backs, I can change the pace so dramatically, but the energy to do this is so much less than it used to be. Running is falling forward. Injury free since the change.
  • RunConquerCelebrate
    RunConquerCelebrate Posts: 956 Member
    Options
    This was a great post, I am also a heel striker and I would love to be able to change that.
  • KeithAngilly
    KeithAngilly Posts: 575 Member
    Options
    I have a nagging left knee issue that comes and goes. I have seen an ortho and he describes it as the early stages of arthritis (fun). So the way I run doesn't help, I am a heal striker with a long stride. Over the last 6-12 months I have shortened my stride and tried to increase my cadence. That has helped a little.

    Last night while running, for some unknown reason I got up on my toes just a little bit more while running. And my knee did not hurt at all. This little change forced my foot to strike more on the mid-foot and fore-foot instead of heal. My stride shortened A LOT and my cadence went up. All things I have been working on. I only did it for the last 1/2 mile of my run so I am not how I would handle this change for longer distances yet.

    So my question: Is is possible to change how your foot strikes? Am I just going to hurt myself somewhere else?

    Anyone have an similar experiences trying to move away from heal striking?

    Currently I am running 25-30 miles a week. It is very frustrating because my knee is limiting the miles I can run.

    My own sense of this is that it isn't important what part of your foot strikes the ground. What is important is where the foot contacts the ground on the forward swing. Don't believe it? Check this out: http://www.runningtechniquetips.com/2012/06/us-olympic-trials-10000m-footstrike-variation/ These are elite athletes, some of whom are heel striking! Oh noes!!!

    Also, check this out: http://www.runningtechniquetips.com/2011/03/running-technique-four-phases/

    From that link: " For the record I advocate a neutral foot strike, which in terms over the above description is most closely matched to the mid-foot strike. In simple terms the foot should contact the ground slightly ahead of the body mass, under (not ahead of) the knee, with a neutral posture (horizontal to the ground) that allows for the heel to contact the ground and the foot, Achilles, lower leg and calf muscles to load up. The foot should then stiffen into plantaflexion allowing full release of stored energy and transference of force generated by the hamstrings and glutes. Another frequently ignored aspect of ground contact is where the foot and leg tracks in relation to the hips. Ideally the feet should support the body close to being under each hip – not track under the mid-line of the body."

    Finally, a useful trick I have found it to run with my toes raised (dorsiflexion). This techniques helps prepare the foot and leg for contact with the ground. I got it from here: http://www.runningplanet.com/do-you-want-better-running-form---raise-your-toes.html
    It's an in-grained habit now, and I think it helps a lot.

    Imho, good form, not matching a metronome number or changing foot strike, will benefit the runner in the long run.

    Good luck!
  • mjpTennis
    mjpTennis Posts: 6,165 Member
    Options
    A perfect example of always evolving. Going to add this thought about flexing my toes to see how it feels. Great post Keith.
  • mjpTennis
    mjpTennis Posts: 6,165 Member
    Options
    This morning's run I focused on the flexing. It is a beautiful thing. I can still midfoot strike with this focus and it is so natural. Thanks again.