Running Health: Balance - Footstrike

What does a Footstrike imbalance mean?

Footstrike imbalance refers to a difference in the foot landing pattern of your left and right feet during each stride (1 stride is 2 steps).

Your Footstrike pattern is highly specific to you as an individual and will be affected by your overall running technique as well as the nature of the course, terrain and the intensity which you are running at.

NURVV Run identifies your overall Footstrike imbalance as a difference in the foot landing patterns in strides over the course of a run.

When is Footstrike imbalance a concern?

If your established Footstrike Balance score is regularly graded ‘Average’ or lower in the NURVV Run app, it may be worth considering trying to improve it so that your foot landings are more similar between right and left foot.

How can I improve my Footstrike imbalance?

Below are some options you could consider trying if you’d like to improve your Footstrike Balance:

  • NURVV Run ‘Indoor’ feature
  • Exercises & drills

1. NURVV Run ‘Indoor’ feature (treadmill run)

NURVV Run knows that the best way to track and monitor any changes to your running technique is when the feedback is provided in real-time! The Indoor Run feature in the NURVV Run app gives real- time information on foot-specific metrics, such as Cadence and Footstrike.

During an Indoor Run, the NURVV Run app displays the most common footstrike for your left and right foot, as a percentage, with this information being updated on a rolling basis every 10 seconds. Below are some suggested ways to use this feature.

Learn About Your Footstrike Pattern
You can see what your most common footstrike type is, whether it is different for each foot and how your landing pattern may change naturally according to the pace of the run and your fatigue level.

Experiment with Different Types of Footstrike

Using the Footstrike data reported by the app as a guide, you can try adjusting your footstrike and learn to feel the difference between rear, mid and forefoot striking.

Balance your Footstrike Pattern
You can balance your footstrike by adjusting your form and trying to maintain a match between the most common footstrike of your left and right foot.

If you decide to use this feature to balance your Footstrike landing pattern, make sure that you start with short efforts. Once you get comfortable, gradually increase the interval time and then introduce the form changes within a longer run. Below is an example of an introductory footstrike transition session to try:

  1. Start with 5-minutes of running with normal footstrike pattern
  2. 60 s adopted footstrike / 60 s normal footstrike
  3. 90 s adopted footstrike / 90 s normal footstrike
  4. 120 s adopted footstrike / 120 s normal footstrike
  5. 60 s adopted footstrike / 60 s normal footstrike
  6. Finish with a 5-minute cooldown

2. Exercises & drills

Running drills

Another very effective strategy to promote Footstrike balance is including running drills in your workout. Drills are used to improve neuromuscular recruitment and include 'high knees' skips, 'high knees and kick' and ‘straight leg bounds’ as well as single/double leg hopping exercises. They will promote foot landing under your hips and a better position of the foot on initial contact.

'High knees' drill

'High knees and kick' drill

Straight leg ‘bounds’

Single leg exercises – fundamental movements, plyometrics and stretching

    Performing a series of single leg workouts will help to strengthen each leg and improve left-right balance. It is also useful to incorporate plyometrics and different dynamic exercises to add the element of movement and energy absorption which mimics initial contact of the foot with the ground.

    Below, you can find a exercise plan that will be useful when trying to improve Footstrike Balance (downloadable PDF version available at bottom of page).

    Depending on your fitness levels and exercise abilities feel free to modify the number of sets and reps to adjust the efforts. Emphasise quality of movement over quantity so if you feel your technique dropping then cease that exercise. You can also consult a PT/ S&C coach to get a more personal exercise recommendation.

    Exercise plan (time estimate: 40-45min) (Downloadable PDF version)

    For single leg exercises, complete the sets and reps listed for each leg.

    Using These Workouts

    You will need to follow your chosen workout plan for 6-8 weeks, completing at least one session per week in order to see improvements.

    Remember, even after improvements are made, regular strength and conditioning sessions will be required to maintain improvements.

    How can I tell if my Footstrike imbalance is improving?

    Running Health can show you whether your exercise program is helping to improve your Footstrike imbalance.

    1. Go to the Running health screen Check your Health Radar graph regularly to see the current grading of your Balance. If you started with a low grading for Balance (i.e. ‘Bad’/’Poor’/’Average’ category), focus on whether you’re moving towards ‘Good’ / ‘Great’ categories.

    2. Now scroll down to the A breakdown section, select Balance and check if Footstrike is still identified as having the largest imbalance.

    3. On top of this Balance screen, your data are presented for the past 28 days. This graph is key for monitoring your progress once you start applying improvement strategies. You should aim for a gradual increase of the Balance line over time, ideally until it reaches the Good or Great zones (line will be shaded blue), this represents excellent left-right balance. The small circles indicate daily values of Balance (based on a combination of step length, footstrike, pronation and cadence imbalances) on days when runs were completed.

    4. Inspect the mini-charts at the bottom of the Balance screen and make sure that you pay extra attention to the average percentage imbalance for Footstrike to notice any improvements after you start to implement interventions to promote Footstrike balance.

    The Footstrike mini-chart provides the Footstrike imbalance values for each day for up to the last 28 days. The most recent day’s value is in the dark grey line at the top and previous day’s data goes back in time from top to bottom. For each day, the length of the line indicates how big the imbalance is. At the bottom of the mini-chart the average magnitude of the Footstrike imbalance for the past 28 days is shown.

    5. We also recommend that you frequently review your Footstrike Form Report found in the Summary section of each run in Run history. By doing that, you can compare foot landing patterns between different runs (shorter, longer, easier, faster) and monitor your progress in more detail.