Heel strike or forefoot?

There has been a seemingly age old debate about the best foot strike position when running (heel strike, mid foot or forefoot). Heel striking has been thought to be an inefficient technique, with increased risk of injury (not yet proven by the research). Interestingly the IAAF world championship marathon has just been run and the top 4 men were all heel strikers.. Is it a coincidence?

I have been recently following Ryan Flaherty (Nike executive coach) who trained Meb Keflezighi (also a heel striker) to a surprise Boston Marathon win in 2014, the first American to win since 1983..

Ryan’s main approach to training was power and strength training, and increasing stride length. Therefore taking less strides to complete the marathon. A small increase in each stride becomes a big advantage over this type of distance.

So maybe there’s something in this. Maybe in order to increase stride length and run faster over longer distance (10km+), we need strike with our heel slightly in front of the pelvis?

Here’s an image of elite runners in the 2010 Boston marathon at mile 17 all heel striking...

Disclaimer: don’t change something that isn’t broken, everybody’s body is different! If you are a strong mid foot runner stick to it! If you are looking to change, progress slowly into any new technique, and get coaching and guidance. Changing running style too quickly could lead to overload of structures not ready to take impact and absorb forces. A gradual transition will allow soft tissue and joints to adapt.