What is Footstrike?
Footstrike describes which part of a runner's foot – Rearfoot, Midfoot or Forefoot – makes initial contact with the ground as they run. Everyone has a natural footstrike pattern. Factors such as technique, gradient, surface, running speed, and footwear can all change Footstrike pattern.
Midfoot, Forefoot and Rearfoot Footstrikes
Footstrike type may alter the nature of the forces being absorbed by the leg during ground contact. The benefits of doing this are not universally agreed upon and it seems likely that different runners will have different ideal Footstrike patterns, but changing Footstrike pattern is a popular technique modification in running.
For in-run monitoring of your Footstrike, you can choose to run an Indoor Run from the Run screen. Once the run has started, you can swipe to the left to take you to Footstrike Trainer, which displays a real-time visualization of your Footstrike landing pattern (Rearfoot, Midfoot, or Forefoot) for both left and right foot. Check that you are running with the Footstrike you intend to be using and check for any imbalance between left and right. The Footstrike Trainer screen also provides a rolling update of the most common Footstrike landing you have used on each foot for the last 10 seconds.
For post-run monitoring of Footstrike, you can dive into the detail for specific runs via the Run Summary screen. The main Run Summary screen provides a value for the most common Footstrike you used over the course of the run and displays the % number of steps that had that Footstrike type.
If you want more detail, you can tap on the Footstrike metric and view a full breakdown of the proportion of Footstrikes (Rearfoot, Midfoot, Forefoot) used during that run for both left and right foot.
Footstrike Profile shows how your Footstrike changed over the course of the run, for each quarter-split providing the proportion of different Footstrike types used on each foot. The addition of the Elevation Profile allows you to cross-reference your Footstrike to the terrain.
Does your Footstrike change as you fatigue? How is your Footstrike affected by steep inclines or declines? Is your Footstrike balanced or different between left and right foot? Your Footstrike Profile can answer all of these questions!
Current thinking is that there is no one Footstrike pattern that is optimal for all runners.
The majority of runners should aim to run with a balanced Footstrike, such that both feet use the same Footstrike pattern as frequently as possible.
You can use a Footstrike Coach workout or Footstrike Trainer to help you run with a balanced Footstrike.
Some runners may benefit from adopting a new Footstrike pattern in the longer term to help with:
- Better running economy
- Reduced impact forces/joint loading
- A redistribution of loading
- Reduced injury risk
Some approaches you can use to help with a Footstrike transition include:
- Use Footstrike Trainer, available in Indoor Run mode, to help you develop the connection between running with a particular Footstrike pattern and how this feels for you.
- Use Footstrike Coach workouts as part of a longer-term training program to gradually adopt a new Footstrike pattern. Target your preferred Footstrike and use workouts created by Footstrike Coach to progressively run for longer with this new Footstrike.
- Use the Footstrike Profile, available after each run session, to analyze what your left and right Footstrike are and how your Footstrike changes over the course of a run. Comparing different runs over a period of time or runs in different footwear will help you monitor how your Footstrike pattern is changing over the longer term.
- Running with a higher cadence and shorter step length, while at the same time landing your feet under flexing knees.
- Aiming to run softer with less noise at initial contact of the foot with the ground, which often has the effect of bringing your Footstrike forward with less dorsiflexion (toe up) of the ankle at ground contact.
- A change in footwear, such as different stack height between the front and the back of the shoe (drop), can affect Footstrike patterns. A shoe with a lower drop will promote contact towards the front of the foot. A shoe with a higher drop often encourages runners to land on the heel, especially if the Forefoot/Midfoot Footstrike is not a natural pattern. If using this technique to change Footstrike pattern, a slow transition in shoe drop height is recommended as it typically takes the body several weeks to adapt.