The position of a runner’s feet during a marathon truly makes the difference in the way his/her body feels afterwards. One wrong move or step and it could mean eliminating the one thing a runner loves to do: run. Depending on the specific skeletal anatomy of the runner, each position produces different results.
What Are Foot Landing Types?
There are three different landing types for runners to be aware of and each works well with different types of feet. The first type is the “heel-toe” type. The second is called “balls of feet, which also goes by the acronym “BOF.” One may see it noted as forefoot strike. The final landing positioning is called “mid-foot strike” and uses the fitting acronym MFS.
The Heel-Toe Method
The heel-toe method, also known as a heel strike, is a type of foot positioning that only works well with those who possess extremely flat feet. The best placement method for running would be a heel-to-toe running method. Running with this type of foot landing means that the runner launches his step from his heel each time.
Balls of Feet Running Method
The “balls of feet” running method is actually cardio inducing because of the amount of work it takes to continue running with this landing style. It is not meant for long-distance running, but it allows the runner to go faster. Since it is harsh on the feet, the impact is high on not only the feet, but also the knees. When runners use this method, their bodies lean forward a bit more than with other running styles. This foot strike can do more harm than good, if done for long distances. The balls-of-the-feet running method requires runners to have strong leg muscles and an arch in their foot to properly execute.
Last but not least, the mid-foot strike is a type of landing style that is meant for running longer distances like marathons, than the previous landing methods. Those who have normal arches and not extremely deep ones should look into using this method for normal running. While there may need to be a combination of styles depending on the terrain, the mid-foot strike landing method makes running feel seamless and effortless.
Is It Easy to Change Landing Styles?
It’s actually quite difficult for new runners to change their foot-strike method upon finding out where they land or their arch. Most runners are forced to gradually work up to the proper landing and it can take time to get used to the new method. Unless a runner possesses flat fleet, heel striking should be completely avoided because this method can cause shin splints from the rough foot-strike impact. The first step to finding or changing the strike of the foot is to determine where a runner’s feet land. This can be done through running and feeling where the most impact is taken. If the runner finds that he lands on his heels or toes, the following tips may help in changing the strike of their foot.
Don’t over stride – Runners who lunge forward should avoid doing so and instead focus on putting this impact toward the ball of their foot.
Running practice – Doing drills, like skipping and high knees, can help marathoners practice landing methods that require a mid-foot landing. This will allow the runner to get used to not landing on his heels. Practicing on carpet is also a great way to get used to new landing methods.
Having a proper running form can make the difference between an injury and being able to run without issue. Practice the proper landing form to reduce and even completely prevent shin splints, Charlie horses, and much more.