You may have heard that heel striking is a bad thing. Isn’t it?
There are tons of opinions and research which arguing with each others. Many studies has shown that forefoot and even mid foot striking is more economic as runners with these style use more thigh muscles (bigger muscle group) than calf muscles (smaller muscle group). So, you are saving more energy and your calves don’t have to work as much, whereas in heel strike.
You might have seen sprinter, how they run almost on their toes only. How about distance runners? No one runs marathon at as same speed than 100m so, our feet has more time to work and ground time is bigger. So, should every distance runner use forefoot striking rather than heel striking? This depends your speed and distance, let’s consider there are marathon runners, some of them run marathon around sub 3:00 and others sub 5:00. Probably most of the sub 3:00 runners will use mid – or forefoot strike, whereas sub 5:00 runner heel strikes. This is because the faster you run the more steps per minute you take and being able to run faster your technique have to be economical so runners tend to automatically change their strike as the speed gets faster.
Test yourself; if you are normally use heel strike during running, make some sprints and check if your striking change more to mid or forefoot. Also test different styles while running at different speeds. Observe any difference, do you feel more stiff, your body posture, breathing, etc.
Should you change your strike style? If you are slower runner, it really doesn’t matter whether you are heel or forefoot striker, unless you are aiming to develop speed and increase your economy.
If you are suffer calf pain or your calf are often tight and you are heel striker, try to change forefoot running or at least mid foot.
Remember we are all individual. Whatever studies shows, some people might find heel striking more efficient and they might run faster than forefoot strikers. Test and find the best style for you!