Forefoot-strike vs heel strike

I recently wrote this article that was published at Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy. Here’s a snippet:

Forefoot running vs heel strike – which is better?

Over the last several years there has been a considerable push towards forefoot running or the “barefoot running” technique. In this article we’ll refer to it as forefoot strike vs heel strike. Among my clientele of devout runners, I have seen multiple injuries related to attempting to convert to minimalist shoes. I would often ask why they wanted to become forefoot runners suddenly instead of sticking to their natural running pattern. The response is something like, “because it’s better isn’t it?”  So, is it better? Let’s look at the evidence.

Now when I say evidence, we’re talking about published articles in scientific journals. Not from my neighbour, who runs a lot and told me to run this way because it has really helped his 5km parkrun time. However the evidence only goes so far. We will have to make some judgement of our own until further studies are performed.

So what is forefoot running or forefoot strike?

Forefoot running refers to runners that have the ball of the foot  as the first point of contact on the ground. This term is relatively synonymous with toe running.  I don’t necessarily like that term as we technically don’t run on our toes – we run on the balls of our feet. In forefoot running the heel should stay off the ground through the entire phase of contact. Heel striking runners or rearfoot striking runners make initial contact with the ground with their heel then should proceed forward onto their forefoot as they push off.

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