It’s growingly apparent in the running community that run form has become synonymous with foot strike. It’s a shame, too. Foot strike is an only a small piece of the pie when it comes to the way you run. With the dreaded heel strike lingering on the surface, a host of iceberg-proportion issues lie unaccounted for and frankly invisible to most.
Your foot strike certainly matters. A mid foot strike has been shown to decrease the load to the knee (conversely adding it to the ankle), while also slowing the loading rate of ground collision forces. The foot strike movement has yielded millions for shoe companies, while forging a midfoot army. Millions have likely threaded a cadence meter into their laces, while others flirt with the insanity of running through a metronome app that hovers around 180 beats (or steps) per minute.
The tick-tock of the metronome has ultimately matched the pitter-patter of footsteps of all those who drank the cadence Kool-Aid. With an empty cup and a diagnosis of HCS (High Cadence Syndrome), most runners halt their campaign for improving run form and economy. What’s left to show? I ridiculously high turnover and a lot of speed left on the table.
Increasing Step Length
When we talk about your stride length, we’re really talking about step length, or the distance traveled from pushing off on one foot and landing on the other. It sounds like something you would like to maximize, right? Often, the opposite actually happens. Life after midfoot actually entails opening your stride. A quick, high cadence is often counter-productive to speed. Our running analysis identifies these errors in High-Cadence Syndrome (HCS) pretty regularly. Once addressed, the result is often an immediate boost in speed.
Below I highlight my latest analysis. I finally decided to use case studies, as this runner, like many before her, found tremendous success in a short period of time by owning and leveraging her movement.
Through the run analysis we discussed the submerged items on the iceberg: driving from the hips, maximizing step length, and selective stretching and strengthening. All these pieces (amongst others) are equally important to foot strike.
As a runner for over 10 years, she saw some immediate benefits,
A run analysis by a clinician is an amazing way to learn better movement patterns. Simply changing movement (ie foot strike) yields an anatomical requirement. For example, opening your stride to gobble up more real estate with every step requires great hip mobility and strength. Good luck sustaining any form changes without the anatomical support.
The main point here is to realize there’s life beyond a midfoot strike. Most sports are uber-obsessed with form: weight lifting, golf, swimming, etc. Yet, millions of runners pull the wool over their eyes to changing their run form. I’m not looking to convert any of the pessimists preaching “I run the way I run,” but to simply let those who choose to run with more efficiency to look beyond the midfoot strike and understand great run form is supported by great anatomy.
RunSmart Mechanix is a self-paced, four phase run form program that teaches you how to leverage your movement for faster, more efficient running.