How you ever took notice of your running style? If you have, you would have noticed that you are either a rearfoot, midfoot or forefoot striker. Footstrike patterns are categorized depending on what section of the foot initially makes contact with the ground while running. This can be important to note, as changing your strike pattern may reduce your risk of running-related injuries.
The portion of your foot that initially makes contact with the running surface has an association with impact mechanics and the amount of loading. Although the majority of runners (around 90%) adopt a rearfoot strike pattern, this style correlates with the highest levels of loading. As high load rates have been linked to many overuse injuries such as knee pain, shin splints, and Achilles tendinopathy, gait retraining (changing the way you run) has become a powerful tool in overcoming as well as preventing many injuries.
Although effective, gait retraining is not easy to master as it involves changing the habitual movement. Learning a new motor pattern requires the ability to detect error and respond. If changing from a rearfoot to forefoot pattern it is usually easy for the individual to feel the difference of the altered angle of the ankle joint when making contact with the ground. Another method is to get the runner to increase their cadence (the number of steps per minute) as decreasing stride length can sometimes lead to a more mid-forefoot pattern. Footwear is also important to consider. Those who adopt a rearfoot strike pattern are usually better suited with a cushioned runner with a greater heel drop. For someone who is trying to implement a forefoot strike pattern, a more minimalist shoe helps to encourage a forefoot pattern.
In the long term, gait retraining is only going to be beneficial if the running pattern has been learned and maintained over time. The error usually starts to occur later into the run when the individual begins to fatigue – and this is when the risk of injury increases!
If you are currently overcoming an injury, or if you have a history of running-related issues and want to have your running style assessed, book in with one of our podiatrists today. You can book an appointment with one of our podiatrists by calling us on 1300 945 789 or you can book online.