3 Running Types To Manage Your Pain

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It’s that time of the year again, and by that I mean we’re back into MCO (number what again now?). This time around, running is allowed with adherence to physical distancing. And boy have we seen more and more people coming out for a walk/run now. Look outside your neighbourhood and if it’s a warm sunny evening, you’ll know what we mean.

With so many people taking the opportunity to be outdoors, improper running can cause different types of injuries. For example, when you and your family member are out running together, have you realised how, even though you’re doing the exact same activity, both might feel very different after the run (assuming you both have similar fitness levels)

Therein lies the question —

On your next run, observe how you’re running. Are you landing with your heel, your mid-foot or your forefoot?

It is important to understand how the foot contacts the ground because it looks into the types of impact, how it affects the body and most importantly how your body reacts to it, giving you a better idea of how your body is working when you run!

 

Types of Foot Strikes 

There are three types of foot strikes:

  1. Rear foot strike 
  2. Midfoot strike 
  3. Forefoot strike 

With these three different foot strike patterns, the ankle is placed through different positions in order to cushion the impact from the ground, hence using different muscles and the different kinds of injuries that could be sustained.

 

Rear Foot Strike (RFS) 
Rear Foot Strike (RFS)

 

This is the most common foot strike pattern amongst all recreational runners, where the heel of the foot contacts the ground first. In this landing position, the leg is positioned with the knees straight, and the ankles facing towards the ceiling. 

With this landing pattern:

  • Larger amount of force travelling up towards the knees and hips.
  • Lower impact at ankle joint.
  • The faster the speed of the run, the harder the impact is on the heel of the foot.
  • The higher the force that travels up towards the knees and hip (something to think about if you are having knee pain when running).
  • Common injuries: knee pain, hip pain, shin pain.

 

Midfoot Strike (MFS)
Midfoot Strike (MFS)

 

In the Midfoot strike, the heel and the ball of the feet touches the ground at the same time. The impact of this foot strike pattern differs depending on the positions of the ankle and knee when it comes into contact with the ground. However, this foot strike pattern has been found to have similar loading rates with that of the RFS.

With this landing pattern:

  • Common injuries: knee pain, hip pain, shin pain. 

 

Forefoot Strike (FFS)
Forefoot Strike (FFS)

 

This is the least common foot strike pattern of all recreational runners, where the ball of the feet touches the ground before the heel. In this foot strike pattern, the knee is in a more bent position with the ankles in a slight tiptoe.

Most professional runners are trained to run in this foot strike pattern and it has been found to be more common amongst marathon runners who placed in the Top 20s.

With this foot strike pattern: 

  • Increased impact at the point of contact – the ankle.
  • Less impact that travels up the leg, so it’s easier on your hip and knees.
  • Over a range of slow to fast speed, the impact going up the leg was found to be largely similar. 
  • Less exchange of energy between foot and ground, saving you some energy during runs. 
  • Lesser impact compared to the RFS and MFS because of greater calf muscle activation, even when you run faster!
  • Common injuries: ankle pain, foot pain, fracture of the toes. 

 

The money question now  —

Which foot strike pattern do you have AND are you in pain when you’re running?

If you resonate with what has been shared above and you’ve sustained some form of injury during this lockdown, or perhaps you’d like to level up your run, do drop by for a consult! 

Our chiropractors will help unlock some of those stiff joints to give you more flexibility and range as the right posture during your runs would also reduce other injuries. Our physiotherapists can also help you analyse, activate and teach you how to power your muscles safely and prevent injuries! You can also identify what conditions require a session with the physio or chiro here.

Stay tuned for Part Two on the Types of Running Injuries, but in the meantime check out our Instagram post for some exercises that will help you run better and safer.

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