It is very common for me to see athletes and clients who have developed the habit of running, or thinking they are running, by striking the ground with their heel! This is actually something that occurs very frequently and we can thank our choice of footwear over the years. There are many different books that talk about foot striking and how humans were developed to run for example, “Born to Run”.
In regards to proper sprinting mechanics, unless you are trying to decelerate your body, there should be no point in which your heel meets the ground! When breaking down an athletes mechanics on a treadmill it is evident to see the violence in each collision the foot has with the ground when they first meet it with their heel. Not only does striking with your heel create damage over time to your knees, lower back, and ankles but it also slows you down! Essentially each time we strike with our heel, we are decelerating our body, which……I’m pretty sure if your sprinting, your defeating the purpose of your motive.
With all of that being considered, when we have properly taught an athlete to run they are striking with not the toes, but the front ¾ of the shoe. The goal is that the athlete is never leading the toe pointed at the ground, but pulled up toward the sky (dorsi flexion) and timely striking the ground as it cycles down just in front of the plane of the hips. One cue that we can ensure helps most athletes achieve the proper foot strike is having them emphasize more of a forward lean from their torso. Many times, athletes develop a habit of what we refer to as “sitting in the chair” which creates an absolute erect poster and causes them to pull the ground underneath their body as opposed to pushing it underneath their body when the foot strikes the ground. We always want to push, we are more powerful and explosive from that position. It also will help us avoid over use or pre fatiguing of the hamstring!
Solid Running View