Lateral Forefoot loading. Why do we see so many runners laterally strike on the forefoot ?

This was from a reader on our Facebook PAGE. It was a great observation and a great topic to continue on our dialogue here on the blog and on our last 2 podcasts. We discussed this on the last podcast but we feel that there needs to be further clarification. (FB link) and (Pod link)

I think Runblogger or someone like that showed video clips of footstrike at an elite (or pro) level race…virtually all the elites (or pros) were first contacting the ground on the outside of their forefoot and rolling to the inside.

The Gait Guys response:

For some people, their anatomy “works” or can tolerate the forefoot contact better than others. Remember, the natural walking gait foot progression is heel, lateral forefoot, medial forefoot. The natural running foot strike is under greater debate as you all know if you have been following the materials here on our blog, facebook, twitter and podcasts. Our last two podcasts (#19 and #20) have gone into this in greater depth.

What you likely are seeing (the more lateral forefoot loading pattern) for these elite pro runners in the video you spoke of is normal clean biomechanics (for them), but for many people, you are not seeing that (by the way, we saw plenty of nice squared off forefoot loading responses as well in other pics and videos); rather you are seeing a coping compensation or just simply poor biomechanics that will lead them to injury. The question is when does it become excessive for a person via poor running form choice, forefoot varus foot type or internal tibial torsion etc ? Perhaps a more important question is whether the person has a flexible mid foot and fore foot that will allow the drop of the first metatarsal (medial tripod) to the ground to complete the foot tripod without having to over pronate through the midfoot or forefoot ? That is the key ! 

And these are valid concerns. Many of people have this, the elites you saw obviously have tolerant anatomy and tolerant biomechanics, for them. For them, they orchestrate all of the parts, perfect or imperfect, into a symphony. This is not as common as many of us would wish. Sure a more (not 100%) squared off forefoot strike is more perfect but not many people have perfect anatomy, in fact we are taught in med school that anatomic variance is the norm. And besides, what is perfect for any given person ?  Perfect and clean biomechanics for a given person could arguably be debated as that which enables them to be most efficient without injury long term. Meaning that which may not look pristine but that which acts as such over the long term.

Classically, a brief, controlled, and non-excessive lateral strike may be  normal, and with a normal and progressive transition to the medial side of the foot however, many people have a rigidity-flexibility issue between the forefoot and rearfoot (ie. rigid or uncompensated forefoot varus for example) and these people often become patients as runners.  This was what we were referring to in podcast #20 which spurred the readers inquiry.  These folks cannot adequately, safely and efficiently drop the medial tripod down (1st metatarsal head) without having to so much of the movement more grossly through the midfoot and excessive pronation.  Many people try to fix this with shoes or orthotics but it is a bit more complicated than that, although on the surface it seems logical and simple.

Obviously those pros that were viewed do not have these issues, hence why they are pros, meaning optimal mechanics, rarely injured for long combined and with gifted cardio fitness. To be a pro you need all of the pieces, just wanting to run fast or simply training hard is often just not enough to become elite. The pros are a small percent of the population. Many others are not in that category and thus remain at risk injury or become statistics. We have had plenty of elite runners in our offices who had the cardio and the will but not the anatomy and biomechanics to stay out of our offices long term (injury free) to compound the necessary training.  Many of these folks were converted to triathletes and have been able to compete at world class levels because we found a way for them to dampen the impact miles on tortured running anatomy. 

Sometimes a person’s will is not enough, sometimes you have to have the complete package. And that means competent anatomy and a tolerance system to aberrant biomechanics.  In our opinion our dialogue here is critical in runners, unfortunately there are some big gaps from the medical and biomechanics side in  many of the dialogues on the internet.  But that is were we find our niche, and it is where we are best positioned to help the masses. 

Join us weekly on our podcasts,  here on our blog, or our other social media sites. Join the Gait Guys brethren !
Shawn and Ivo

The Gait Guys

all material copyright 2013 The Gait Guys/ The Homunculus Group. All rights reserved. Please ask before lifting our stuff!

Lateral Forefoot loading. Why do we see so many runners laterally strike on the forefoot ?

This was from a reader on our Facebook PAGE. It was a great observation and a great topic to continue on our dialogue here on the blog and on our last 2 podcasts. We discussed this on the last podcast but we feel that there needs to be further clarification. (FB link) and (Pod link)

I think Runblogger or someone like that showed video clips of footstrike at an elite (or pro) level race…virtually all the elites (or pros) were first contacting the ground on the outside of their forefoot and rolling to the inside.

The Gait Guys response:

For some people, their anatomy “works” or can tolerate the forefoot contact better than others. Remember, the natural walking gait foot progression is heel, lateral forefoot, medial forefoot. The natural running foot strike is under greater debate as you all know if you have been following the materials here on our blog, facebook, twitter and podcasts. Our last two podcasts (#19 and #20) have gone into this in greater depth.

What you likely are seeing (the more lateral forefoot loading pattern) for these elite pro runners in the video you spoke of is normal clean biomechanics (for them), but for many people, you are not seeing that (by the way, we saw plenty of nice squared off forefoot loading responses as well in other pics and videos); rather you are seeing a coping compensation or just simply poor biomechanics that will lead them to injury. The question is when does it become excessive for a person via poor running form choice, forefoot varus foot type or internal tibial torsion etc ? Perhaps a more important question is whether the person has a flexible mid foot and fore foot that will allow the drop of the first metatarsal (medial tripod) to the ground to complete the foot tripod without having to over pronate through the midfoot or forefoot ? That is the key ! 

And these are valid concerns. Many of people have this, the elites you saw obviously have tolerant anatomy and tolerant biomechanics, for them. For them, they orchestrate all of the parts, perfect or imperfect, into a symphony. This is not as common as many of us would wish. Sure a more (not 100%) squared off forefoot strike is more perfect but not many people have perfect anatomy, in fact we are taught in med school that anatomic variance is the norm. And besides, what is perfect for any given person ?  Perfect and clean biomechanics for a given person could arguably be debated as that which enables them to be most efficient without injury long term. Meaning that which may not look pristine but that which acts as such over the long term.

Classically, a brief, controlled, and non-excessive lateral strike may be  normal, and with a normal and progressive transition to the medial side of the foot however, many people have a rigidity-flexibility issue between the forefoot and rearfoot (ie. rigid or uncompensated forefoot varus for example) and these people often become patients as runners.  This was what we were referring to in podcast #20 which spurred the readers inquiry.  These folks cannot adequately, safely and efficiently drop the medial tripod down (1st metatarsal head) without having to so much of the movement more grossly through the midfoot and excessive pronation.  Many people try to fix this with shoes or orthotics but it is a bit more complicated than that, although on the surface it seems logical and simple.

Obviously those pros that were viewed do not have these issues, hence why they are pros, meaning optimal mechanics, rarely injured for long combined and with gifted cardio fitness. To be a pro you need all of the pieces, just wanting to run fast or simply training hard is often just not enough to become elite. The pros are a small percent of the population. Many others are not in that category and thus remain at risk injury or become statistics. We have had plenty of elite runners in our offices who had the cardio and the will but not the anatomy and biomechanics to stay out of our offices long term (injury free) to compound the necessary training.  Many of these folks were converted to triathletes and have been able to compete at world class levels because we found a way for them to dampen the impact miles on tortured running anatomy. 

Sometimes a person’s will is not enough, sometimes you have to have the complete package. And that means competent anatomy and a tolerance system to aberrant biomechanics.  In our opinion our dialogue here is critical in runners, unfortunately there are some big gaps from the medical and biomechanics side in  many of the dialogues on the internet.  But that is were we find our niche, and it is where we are best positioned to help the masses. 

Join us weekly on our podcasts,  here on our blog, or our other social media sites. Join the Gait Guys brethren !
Shawn and Ivo

The Gait Guys

all material copyright 2013 The Gait Guys/ The Homunculus Group. All rights reserved. Please ask before lifting our stuff!

I watched your YouTube video on GTO. One point I wanted to get clarified. If GTOs are found in muscle tendon junction why would you do work on muscle belly to stimulate it ?

GTO’s respond to tension where spindles respond to length changes. The mm belly is where most of the tension occurs. Also, by working in the belly, you have a longer lever arm for stimulation and since they are higher threshold, this seems to work better.

Hope that helps. The Gait Guys.

I watched your YouTube video on GTO. One point I wanted to get clarified. If GTOs are found in muscle tendon junction why would you do work on muscle belly to stimulate it ?

GTO’s respond to tension where spindles respond to length changes. The mm belly is where most of the tension occurs. Also, by working in the belly, you have a longer lever arm for stimulation and since they are higher threshold, this seems to work better.

Hope that helps. The Gait Guys.

Podcast #20. Foot Strike Truths Part 2, Exoskeletons & Robots & Haglund’s Deformity

Podcast link:

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/pod-20-footstrike-part2-robots-haglund-s-deformi

iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

___________________________________

Show notes for Podcast #20.

This is another great podcast. We go deeper into the bowels (and Truth) about foot strike and try to further dispell the myths that are abundant on the topic.

1. Neuroscience Talk:

Brain-machine interfaces could provide “superhuman” abilities, enhancing strength and speed. The reports says these interfaces could also potentially give humans new abilities not previously available. The report also mentions benefits to mobility in the elderly in the form of exoskeletons.

http://www.sciencespacerobots.com/
or
http://www.scribd.com/doc/115962650/Global-Trends-2030-Alternative-Worlds

National Intelligence Council Predicts Superhuman Trend in 2030 Report

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2013 Jan 21;10(1):3. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Haglund’s Deformity / Syndrome
Everything you wanted to know about this heel problem, and more !

3. The Problems with Footstrike and Foot types, Part 2.
Research based truth behind foot stress fractures: Foot Landing and Loading Pathomechanics.
We talk about this journal article and the implications of foot landing mechanics and metatarsal stress fractures in the literature during Podcast # S1-E3 (Season1-Episode3) in case you want to hear what else we had to say on this topic.

http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/7047/

Computer simulation of stress distribution in the metatarsals at different inversion landing angles using the finite element method
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903174/

From the Expert: Danny Abshire Talks Foot Placement
http://blog.newtonrunning.com/blog/bid/262036/From-the-Expert-Danny-Abshire-Talks-Foot-Placement

Podcast #20. Foot Strike Truths Part 2, Exoskeletons & Robots & Haglund’s Deformity

Podcast link:

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/pod-20-footstrike-part2-robots-haglund-s-deformi

iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

___________________________________

Show notes for Podcast #20.

This is another great podcast. We go deeper into the bowels (and Truth) about foot strike and try to further dispell the myths that are abundant on the topic.

1. Neuroscience Talk:

Brain-machine interfaces could provide “superhuman” abilities, enhancing strength and speed. The reports says these interfaces could also potentially give humans new abilities not previously available. The report also mentions benefits to mobility in the elderly in the form of exoskeletons.

http://www.sciencespacerobots.com/
or
http://www.scribd.com/doc/115962650/Global-Trends-2030-Alternative-Worlds

National Intelligence Council Predicts Superhuman Trend in 2030 Report

J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2013 Jan 21;10(1):3. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Haglund’s Deformity / Syndrome
Everything you wanted to know about this heel problem, and more !

3. The Problems with Footstrike and Foot types, Part 2.
Research based truth behind foot stress fractures: Foot Landing and Loading Pathomechanics.
We talk about this journal article and the implications of foot landing mechanics and metatarsal stress fractures in the literature during Podcast # S1-E3 (Season1-Episode3) in case you want to hear what else we had to say on this topic.

http://www.elitetrack.com/blogs/details/7047/

Computer simulation of stress distribution in the metatarsals at different inversion landing angles using the finite element method
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903174/

From the Expert: Danny Abshire Talks Foot Placement
http://blog.newtonrunning.com/blog/bid/262036/From-the-Expert-Danny-Abshire-Talks-Foot-Placement

A very cool video comprises this post today. It exemplifies the 3 systems that keep us upright in the gravitational plane: vision, the vestibular system and proprioception (we did a cool post on some of this a while ago here and here)

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

Ivo and Shawn

Though you weigh less when naked, it doesn’t mean you are more efficient…

“Running barefoot offers no metabolic advantage over running in lightweight, cushioned shoes.”

This study looked at VO2 max (ie. the bodies ability to utilize oxygen, or more precisely, the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight ).

The study found that VO2 increased as weight was added to the foot, whether or not ehy were wearing shoes AND there was not significant difference.

“V˙O(2) increased by approximately 1% for each 100 g added per foot, whether barefoot or shod (P < 0.001). However, barefoot and shod running did not significantly differ in V˙O(2) or metabolic power. A consequence of these two findings was that for footwear conditions of equal mass, shod running had ∼3%-4% lower V˙O(2) and metabolic power demand than barefoot running (P < 0.05).”

An interesting finding was that VO2 was actually 3-4% less for shod running than barefoot, indicating increased metabolic efficiency (albeit small) for shoes.

Why? Our theory is increased biomechanical efficiency with shoes. Shoes, creating less pronatory force and accessory motion (due to cushioning and constraints of the shoe; ie it takes some of the complexity out of the motion) created a more rigid lever with better force transduction.

The Gait Guys. Asking the hard questions and giving you the facts with each post.       


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Aug;44(8):1519-25. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182514a88.

Metabolic cost of running barefoot versus shod: is lighter better?

Source

Locomotion Lab, Department of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA. jason.franz@colorado.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Based on mass alone, one might intuit that running barefoot would exact a lower metabolic cost than running in shoes. Numerous studies have shown that adding mass to shoes increases submaximal oxygen uptake (V˙O(2)) by approximately 1% per 100 g per shoe. However, only two of the seven studies on the topic have found a statistically significant difference in V˙O(2) between barefoot and shod running. The lack of difference found in these studies suggests that factors other than shoe mass (e.g., barefoot running experience, foot strike pattern, shoe construction) may play important roles in determining the metabolic cost of barefoot versus shod running. Our goal was to quantify the metabolic effects of adding mass to the feet and compare oxygen uptake and metabolic power during barefoot versus shod running while controlling for barefoot running experience, foot strike pattern, and footwear.

METHODS:

Twelve males with substantial barefoot running experience ran at 3.35 m·s with a midfoot strike pattern on a motorized treadmill, both barefoot and in lightweight cushioned shoes (∼150 g per shoe). In additional trials, we attached small lead strips to each foot/shoe (∼150, ∼300, and ∼450 g). For each condition, we measured the subjects’ rates of oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production and calculated metabolic power.

RESULTS:

V˙O(2) increased by approximately 1% for each 100 g added per foot, whether barefoot or shod (P < 0.001). However, barefoot and shod running did not significantly differ in V˙O(2) or metabolic power. A consequence of these two findings was that for footwear conditions of equal mass, shod running had ∼3%-4% lower V˙O(2) and metabolic power demand than barefoot running (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Running barefoot offers no metabolic advantage over running in lightweight, cushioned shoes.

PMID: 22367745
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22367745

all material copyright 2013 The Gait Guys/The Homunculus Group.

The debate continues. More support for mid and forefoot strikers.

“Forefoot and midfoot strikers had significantly shorter ground contact times than heel strikers. Forefoot and midfoot strikers had significantly faster average race speed than heel strikers.”

We are not saying “better”, but according to this study “faster”!

What is the ideal?  We wish we knew…Biomechanics seem to point to less impact is better, but what is actually best for the individual is probably due to genetics, training, practice, running surface and that individuals neuromuscular competence and ability to compensate.

The Gait Guys. bringing you the facts, even if you or we don’t like them…

                                                                                                                                     

J Sports Sci. 2012;30(12):1275-83. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2012.707326. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

Foot strike patterns and ground contact times during high-calibre middle-distance races.

Source

Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE1 8ST, UK. phil.hayes@northumbria.ac.uk

Abstract

The aims of this study were to examine ground contact characteristics, their relationship with race performance, and the time course of any changes in ground contact time during competitive 800 m and 1500 m races. Twenty-two seeded, single-sex middle-distance races totaling 181 runners were filmed at a competitive athletics meeting. Races were filmed at 100 Hz. Ground contact time was recorded one step for each athlete, on each lap of their race. Forefoot and midfoot strikers had significantly shorter ground contact times than heel strikers. Forefoot and midfoot strikers had significantly faster average race speed than heel strikers. There were strong large correlations between ground contact time and average race speed for the women’s events and men’s 1500 m (r = -0.521 to -0.623; P < 0.05), whereas the men’s 800 m displayed only a moderate relationship (r = -0.361; P = 0.002). For each event, ground contact time for the first lap was significantly shorter than for the last lap, which might reflect runners becoming fatigued.

PMID:22857152[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22857152