Why is a Heel Strike so Bad?

Why is a Heel Strike so Bad?


This video is going to seem very much
like an anti-running campaign, but it’s not.
It’s the exact opposite. I love running,
it’s my favorite form of exercise, but the problem is when
you’re afforded the luxury of the heel strike
in a cushion supporting shoe, things can go very wrong
very quickly. We spoke about heel strike
and how bad it is before. -We had one card to play, you don’t change
one technical variable to make the greatest improvement
in your cohort of athletes. We’ll take them
from doing a heel strike and or a flat strike or a toe strike. You will make everyone
suddenly do a nice dorsiflexed mid-foot strike
under the center mass to get that spring forward and– -But here’s a full breakdown of why. When we walk,
we strike with the heel, roll through the outside of the foot and then come back off the big toe as we roll through the gate cycle. That’s fine, and that’s the best way
to control your speed; keep your balance
at a low sort of intensity. But whenever you run,
whether it’s a 100-meter sprint, sprint a marathon,
or you’re chasing after a ball, the goal is to be
as efficient as possible. That means any braking forces
should be eliminated. Striking the ground on your heel,
not in front of the body is basically doing
the exact opposite; it’s a braking force
sending you backwards. Evolution is just wrong
in a whole bunch of ways; the shoulder as
a ball-and-socket joint, and the femur versus
all that lateral quad mess when it comes to keeping
the patella in its group, it’s just ridiculous. One thing that got right
is the Achilles-calf complex. When we run on our mid-foot, the calf and the Achilles
work as a spring, absorbing and giving us back energy. Your Achilles is so strong,
that it gives you back 30% of the energy you put
into the ground back free. That’s why it’s easy to bounce
quickly up and down, as opposed to going slow
and using your muscles. When you bounce quick,
you use those tendons like springs helping you give you back
that elastic energy. When we heel strike, instead of
using the amazing rubber band system we have on the back of the leg,
we put all the force into this tiny little muscle
on the front of your leg, the Tibialis Anterior. This tiny little muscle here
to control the foot, stop at slamming into the ground
after we heel strike, and to absorb
all those ground reaction forces. Just look at the size difference, you have this tiny Tibialis anterior
at the front and this massive calf complex
at the back. Tibia had one small job
to lift the foot up, to clear the ground
when we sprint and walk. It was not designed
to absorb huge forces when we slam at heels
into the ground. If we’d evolved to run at speed
with the heel strike, we would have a Tibialis anterior
the size of the Gastrocnemius and we would have feet shaped
like those old Sketchers shoes. -It feels like you’re
walking on sand, like your heel is actually sinking
as the foot rolls naturally forward and easily pushes off
with the toe pad propelling you into your next step. -When you strike the ground
with the heel out in front of the body,
you kind of force yourself to have to drag your center
of mass back on top of the foot into that next gate cycle. Not only does this increase
the amount of time you spend on the ground,
it also loads up your hamstrings as opposed to your glutes. When you strike the ground out
in front of your body, you have to drag and pull yourself
through using the hamstring. When you walk and you heel strike,
it’s not that big of a deal. You’re only doing this
for one to two times your own body weight
in ground reaction forces. As you speed up and get to a running
and then a sprinting top speed, you can be dealing with up to six
to eight times your own body weight in ground reaction forces
on a single leg with every stride. That’s an enormous amount of force, and there’s a lot of room
for stuff to go wrong. When you land with a straight leg
out in front of the body, that force is sent rocketing up
the entire connect chain through the heel into the shins, the front of the knee
and even to the lower back. When you strike again
on your mid-foot on your body, first of all, it’s just less force
because now you’re not breaking. But second, your glutes
and your calves can do the work that’s supposed to be working
as springs and elastic bands to absorb and generate energy
as you run. Now here’s where shoes come in. It’s not physically possible
to heel strike in something like this
or in bad faith. Those 200,000 nerve endings
on the bottom of your feet will quickly tell you,
“Change the tactic and do something different.” When you add the cushion
of a sneaker like this, it blinkers those
200,000 nerve endings, dampening the effect of the force, meaning you can strike
and effectively you won’t feel it. But here’s the catch; just because
you got cushioning on the shoe doesn’t mean those forces disappear. They simply slow down. That cushioning on your shoe,
because you can’t feel it immediately and the sensory system
isn’t as active– The forces are still there,
you just don’t feel it acutely and instantly, instead the forces
have passed up the kinetic chain. Because they’re a little bit slower
and dampened out by the shoe, you don’t get that
immediate feedback that you would if you ran barefoot and
with the heel strike.

22 Replies to “Why is a Heel Strike so Bad?”

  1. I think there are most definitely pros and cons of both forefoot running and the 'rolling heal technique' 😉 ,when perfomed correctly. That force you describe has to go somewhere whichever technique is used. Also, at lower speeds I have read that the heal strike is more efficient…

  2. Do you know some great shoes for helping to run more on the forefoot than on the heel? I was thinking that shoes with more forefoot cushioning than heel cushioning would be best but maybe I'm wrong

  3. This is one of the best videos I watched about 'heel striking' and only 6000views definitely should have more! 😉

  4. pls answer my question,everytime i do a long run or a marathon,my foot hurts like hell, everytime my forefoot touched the ground my foot feels hurt ,after i finished and took off my shoes the pain became worst and i need to wait like 2-3 hours so it can go back to normal,plss solution?

  5. I get angry when I see hill strikers at the park. Lol. Specially those people that launch really wide strides and think they look super pro.

  6. I started running on midfoot strike but from first day I feel pain in my calf muscle. Is it is normal or I am doing something wrong? Please guide me

  7. One of the best explanations I've seen on YouTube. Have run barefoot for many years and mainly had to find my own way. Wish I'd seen a video like this about ten years ago. Great video! 👍🏻👏🏻👣

  8. Why are you saying heel-striking whilst walking is fine? It so is not! I liked the video until you spewed that disinfomation.

  9. I'm a midfood striker since 1 ½ years now. Recently I got some new shoes with a good cushioning and I switched back to heel striking just to see how they behave. I noticed it was a lot easier and more efficent than midfoodstiking. Now I'm confused. Maybe it's no validated knowledge but an unproven theory instead? 🤔

  10. Awesome! I f-d up my legs in my 20s with heal striking. Now I run on the front of my foot as I near the age of 50, and have no issues. I used to have bad shin splints–and now I know why–that little muscle trying to stop 6-8x my body weight! I adapted to running on the front of my feet in just a few weeks with no problem. Amazing.

  11. I disagree that heel strike walking isn’t a big deal.
    I told people for nine years that running with a heel strike is detrimental and finally last year I realized that if it’s bad for running, it must be bad for walking.
    So on July 22 2018 I left my heels and after 13 1/2 months of 5 to 10 miles a day, I’m never going back to walking in my heels.
    After 2 months of walking with my heels just off the ground, the tension in my back, which caused pain every time I bent I over at the waist, disappeared.
    I’m not sure how long that had been going on.
    Then after 7 months, with getting my heels even higher off the ground, my glutes that had been insanely tight for 25 years, were “fixed”.
    They had stopped me from bending more than half way at the knees, but now I can all the way down with no tension.
    My flat feet have changed with the right one having an arch and the left one slowly getting one. I’m

    So Thanks for sharing, and in case you haven’t been telling people for 9 years yet that walking is a different story, here’s a different experience to consider.

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