Is it better to run heel-toe or toe-heel?

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  Last updated December 17, 2019 at 10:51 am

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When it comes to preventing running injuries sometimes it’s better to stick with a style that you know.


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Toe-heel or heel-toe? Sticking to a running style you know best might be better. Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images




Why This Matters: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.




Running is the world’s most popular form of exercise. Along with improving the condition of your heart and lungs, it can also promote bone health.


But, it does have it’s downsides – like painful shin splints, sore knees and other injuries.


In a bid to avoid these injuries, some runners have adopted a toe-to-heel style of running on the balls of their feet.


It’s a strategy that is often encouraged by coaches and health professionals.


But new research from La Trobe University suggests there is no evidence that running on the balls of your feet with prevent injury, nor will it improve your performance.


In fact, the researchers suggest that changing your running style may do the opposite and leave you with an even slower stride.


The research findings have been published in the journal Sports Medicine.


Changing up your running style may make you less efficient


Sports physiologist Christian Barton reviewed 53 studies that analysed the impact of the forefoot, rearfoot and flatfoot running patterns on injury, running biomechanics and running economy.




Also: Heavy runners risk injury in lightweight running shoes




“Telling someone to run on the ball of their foot instead of their heel may make them less efficient, at least in the short term,” he says.


“Additionally, there is no evidence either way on whether running on the balls of your feet reduces injury.”


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it


Barton also adds that switching your running style may shift the body’s loads, but it doesn’t make them disappear.


“Running toe-heel might help injuries at the knee, where loads are reduced. However, it may cause injuries to the feet and ankle, where loads are increased,” he says.


Another issue is that most runners try to change their style overnight, leading to problems like stress fractures.


“Even if you are only running 15 to 20 kilometres a week, that’s a lot of extra load to be putting on a new part of your body,” Barton says.


So, when it comes to changing up your style, Barton has a word of advice.


“Put simply, when it comes to running style: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


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