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For more information on running drills specific for form correction: HANS KROESE, P.T. BSED, MOMT, SPM    -  Telephone 503 927 1012   -    EMAIL:

                                                  Forefoot- Rearfoot Striking and the Middle Way

The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas  is a monastery in Northern California where I occasionally listened to talks given by the monks. Walking through the gates there is like stepping back in time. It is a peaceful and quiet place with only the occasional chirping of peacocks and chanting in the background. 

One of the monks once introduced me to a concept known in Buddhism as the Middle Way. Heng Sure, known for his 3 year, 500+ mile pilgrimage (three steps, one bow from Los Angeles to Talmage), advocated finding the right balance in everything we do. 

The same holds true for running. To avoid injury we must find the right balance between doing too much, at the of risk tissue breakdown, or too little, which causes insufficient strength build up and tissue resilience. There is a Middle Way when it comes to the foot strike as well. 

Whether your preference is to land on your forefoot or hind foot applying the Middle Way principle means you do both. By landing only on your forefoot you risk stressing your calf muscles and certain tendons in your ankle. Landing only on your heel risks stressing the bones in your leg (shin or tibia) and knee (patella tendon, distal insertion of IT band).  Alternating between a rear foot strike and a forefoot strike, according to a predetermined ratio, may significantly reduce your risk of injury because you are impacting joint cartilage, tendons, and ligaments multi directionally. 

We often hear running experts advocating the one size fits all approach by emphasizing a heel strike only gait or a forefoot only landing. Instead, why not acquire a running style that does it all? Heel strikers should learn to forefoot strike. Forefoot strikers should occasionally heel strike. Mid-foot strikers should forefoot strike when doing speed work and heel strike during recovery and long runs.  

When the foot hits the ground there should be very little difference in the position of the ankle when you land whether it is on the forefoot or rear foot. A forefoot striker will tilt his ankle down a bit more compared to a heel striker but not by much. The foot itself is mostly horizontal just prior to impact. 

Transitioning to a forefoot strike should be done gradually. For example, for every 10 minutes of heel strike do one minute of forefoot landing. This will help the foot, ankle, and calf muscles get accustomed to this new way of running. Your goal is eventually to land with the foot horizontally and incorporate both a heel strike and forefoot strike in all of your running miles at a ratio that you feel comfortable with. 

The same holds true for those forefoot strikers who transition to a heel strike. A ratio of 20 minutes to one minute of heel striking may help you take some of the impact off of your foot. Whether you are going to run 100 miles or bow 500 finding the Middle Way is going to give you more variety, thereby lessening the ground reaction forces which stress the tendons, ligaments, and muscles with every step. 

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Tualatin OR 97062

Telephone: 503 927 1012