Knee hyperextension and delayed heel rise in an interesting sport, Racewalking.

If you have been in practice long enough, you should know by now that in order to truly help an athlete you have to know their sport, the subtleties and the specifics.  You have heard us talk about premature heel rise off an on for years. Today, you must consider the opposite, delayed heel rise and the bizarre loading responses that come into the kinetic chains from such a behavior.

Racewalking is a long-distance event requiring one foot to be in contact with the ground at all times. Stride length is thus reduced and so to achieve competitive speeds racewalkers must attain cadence rates comparable to those achieved by Olympic 800-meter runners for hours at a time. Most people cannot truly appreciate how fast these folks are going.

There are really only two rules that govern racewalking:

1-The first rules states that the athlete’s trailing foot’s toe cannot leave the ground until the heel of the leading foot has created contact. 

2-The second rule specifies that the supporting leg must straighten, essentially meaning knee extension (and for some, terminal extension, ie. negative 5-10 degrees !) from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes directly over it. Again, essentially meaning full range knee extension for the entire stance phase of gait (early, mid and late midstance phases). 

Delated heel rise ?

Clearly some folks are going to take knee extension a little more literally. Look at the fella in the red and yellow. Can you say knee HYPER extension ? This is right knee anteriormeniscofemoral impingement looming on the horizon, this is an anterior compression overload phenomenon via the quadriceps. This is often met in this sport with the delayed heel rise that the sport seems to often drive. Prolonging the foot ground contact phase, attempting to abide by Rule#2, “the support  leg must straighten”, can lead to knee hyperextension if one is not careful. This will put a longer stretch load into the achilles and posterior compartment mechanism and this prolonged stretch-contract load can eventually lead to local pathology let alone in combination with the anterior knee compression we just eluded to. These folks will also be at risk for more anterior pelvic tilt, distraction of the anterior hip capsule-labral interval, unique hip extension and gluteal integration, and even possibly altered hip extension motor patterning driving abnormal loads into the hamstrings and low back.  Just imagine the changes in the hip flexor strategies in this scenario. 

To help your athletes, know their sport, know your normal biomechanics and know the pathologies when the rules of clean biomechanics are broken.

Today, on Rewind Friday, we will repost a more in-depth, with video, piece we did a few years ago on Race Walking. You may learn more about normal and abnormal gait than you think, today we translate some of the rules of the sport of race walking into deeper thoughts on gait mechanics.

Here is the link to our more in-depth video assessment and dialogue on the fascinating sport of race walking. If you have never truly looked at this sport before, you should enjoy this Rewind Post. (link).

– Dr. Shawn Allen

Podcast 96: Minimalism Shoes, Toe Trauma, Meniscal Impingement.

The Minimalist Shoe Index, Pincer toe nails, toe problems, anteromeniscofemoral impingement syndrome and much more on today’s show !

A. Link to our server:

Direct Download:

Other Gait Guys stuff

B. iTunes link:
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:


-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:

Show notes:

1. New Cameras In Japan Can Detect Drunks At Train Stations

2. It takes a lot of nerve: Scientists make cells to aid peripheral nerve repair
-Scientists at the University of Newcastle, UK, have used a combination of small molecules to turn cells isolated from human skin into Schwann cells

3. The Minimalist Shoe Definition study

A consensus definition and rating scale for minimalist shoes
Jean-Francois Esculier123, Blaise Dubois13, Clermont E. Dionne14, Jean Leblond2 andJean-Sébastien Roy12*

modified Delphi study, 42 experts from 11 countries


The following definition of minimalist shoes was agreed upon by 95 % of participants: “Footwear providing minimal interference with the natural movement of the foot due to its high flexibility, low heel to toe drop, weight and stack height, and the absence of motion control and stability devices”. Characteristics to be included in MI were weight, flexibility, heel to toe drop, stack height and motion control/stability devices, each subscale carrying equal weighing (20 %) on final score.

4. CASE:
Ivo: broken toe, prioprioception
and this

5. CASE: anterior meniscofemoral impingment syndrome

6. Pincer Toe nails:–