Great News: Foot Strike Theories are a Load of Hogwash!

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Don't focus on your foot strike, it doesn't matterIf, like me, you’re trying to seriously get into running, chances are you’ve spent some time pondering the importance of your foot strike—i.e., the way your foot hits the ground as you run. There are varying theories as to how your foot strike will affect the likelihood of getting a running injury, with some people advocating a forefoot strike and others suggesting that heel strikes are just fine.

Argue no more, people: a new study from none other than the U.S. army has proved that how your foot strikes when you run makes no difference when it comes to your injury risk. In order to reach their conclusions, the army videotaped over 1,000 runners (83% of them were heel strikers, which is fairly representative of the general running population.) After interviewing the subjects, they found there was no difference in the injury rate between the two groups, suggesting that the way your foot hits the pavement won’t hurt you.

What will hurt you is overuse—15-18% of study participants reported stress injuries from overworking. So if you learn anything from this study, and your Houston podiatrist, learn this: don’t focus on minutia like how your foot hits the ground. Instead, pay attention to your training rituals, making sure you build in rest days and always incorporate stretching and strength training to protect the muscles that support your runs. Following this advice, instead of trying to keep up with the latest trends in running, is the best way to keep yourself protected from injury. And visiting Dr. Andrew Schneider at the first sign of pain during running will further ensure that you avoid serious injury. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.