Forefoot strike running: Do you have enough calf muscle endurance to do it without a cost ?

Below you will find an article on footwear and running. Rice et al concluded that 

“ When running in a standard shoe, peak resultant and component instantaneous loadrates were similar between footstrike patterns. However, loadrates were lower when running in minimal shoes with a FFS (forefoot strike), compared with running in standard shoes with either foot strike. Therefore, it appears that footwear alters the loadrates during running, even with similar foot strike patterns.

They concluded that footwear alters the load rates during running. No brain surgery here. But that is not the point I want to discuss today. Foot strike matters. Shoes matter. And pairing the foot type and your strike patterns of mental choice, or out of natural choice, is critical. For example, you are not likely (hopefully) to choose a HOKA shoe if you are a forefoot striker. The problem is, novice runners are not likely to have a clue about this, especially if they are fashonistas about their reasoning behind shoe purchases. Most serious runners do not care about the look/color of the shoe. This is serious business to them and they know it is just a 2-3 months in the shoe, depending on their mileage. But, pairing the foot type, foot strike pattern and shoe anatomy is a bit of a science and an art. I will just mention our National Shoe Fit Certification program here if you want to get deeper into that science and art. (Beware, this is not a course for the feint of heart.)

However, I just wanted to approach a theoretical topic today, playing off of the “Forefoot strike” methodology mentioned in the article today.  I see this often in my practice, I know Ivo does as well. The issue can be one of insufficient endurance and top end strength (top end ankle plantar flexion) of the posterior mechanism, the gastrocsoleus-achilles complex. If your calf complex starts to fatigue and you are forefoot striker, the heel will begin to drop, and sometimes abruptly right after forefoot load. The posterior compartment is a great spring loading mechanism and can be used effectively in many runners, the question is, if you fatigue your’s beyond what is safe and effective are you going to pay a price ? This heel drop can put a sudden unexpected and possibly excessive load into the posterior compartment and achilles. This act will move you into more relative dorsiflexion, this will also likely start abrupt loading the calf-achilles eccentrically. IF you have not trained this compartment for eccentric loads, your achilles may begin to call you out angrily. Can you control the heel decent sufficiently to use the stored energy efficiently and effectively? Or will you be a casualty?  This drop if uncontrolled or excessive may also start to cause some heel counter slippage at the back of the shoe, friction is never a good thing between skin and shoe. This may cause some insertional tendonitis or achilles proper hypertrophy or adaptive thickening. This may cause some knee extension when the knee should not be extending. This may cause some pelvis drop, a lateral foot weight bear shift and supination tendencies, some patellofemoral compression, anterior meniscofemoral compression/impingement, altered arm swing etc.  You catch my drift. Simply put, an endurance challenged posterior compartment, one that may not express its problem until the latter miles, is something to be aware of. 

Imagine being a forefoot striker and 6 miles into a run your calf starts to fatigue. That forefoot strike now becomes a potential liability. We like, when possible, a mid foot strike. This avoids heel strike, avoids the problems above, and is still a highly effective running strike pattern. Think about this, if you are a forefoot striker and yet you still feel your heel touch down each step after the forefoot load, you may be experiencing some of the things I mentioned above on a low level. And, you momentarily moved backwards when you are trying to run forwards. Why not just make a subtle change towards mid foot strike, when that heel touches down after your forefoot strike, you are essentially there anyways. Think about it.

Shawn Allen, one of The Gait Guys

Footwear Matters: Influence of Footwear and Foot Strike on Loadrates During Running. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
Rice, Hannah M.; Jamison, Steve T.; Davis, Irene S.

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/publishahead/Footwear_Matters___Influence_of_Footwear_and_Foot.97456.aspx

Do you have enough in the anterior tank ? Dr. Allen’s quiz question and lesson of the week.

One of my favorite sayings to my clients, “Do you have enough anterior strength to achieve and maintain posterior length?”  

Translation, do you have enough anterior lower leg compartment strength (tibialis anterior, long toe extensor muscle group, peroneus tertius) to achieve sufficient ankle dorsiflexion in order to achieve posterior compartment length (gastric, soleus, tibialis posterior, long toe flexor muscle) ?  You see, you can either regularly stretch the calf-achilles complex or you can achieve great anterior compartment strength, to drive sufficient ankle dorsiflexion, in effect EARNING the posterior compartment length. This is a grounded principle in our offices. It is the premise of the Shuffle Walk exercise (link) and many others we implement in restoring someones biomechanics.

Now on to today’s quiz question.

In this photo, both people are just mere moments before heel strike. 

1. Who is gonna need to have more eccentric strength in the anterior compartment ? And what if they don’t have it ? Repercussions ?  

2. Who is toeing off the lateral forefoot ? 

3. Who is crossing over more and thus could have more gluteus medius weakness ?

A picture is worth a thousand words. Answers and dialogue below.

.

.

.

.

.

.

1. The lady in the high heeled shoes. If she heel strikes first, the larger longer heel on her shoe will mean she will need more of a prolonged eccentric loading of the anterior compartment to lower the forefoot to the ground. I hope she shortens her strike so she can get close to mid foot strike, it will negate most of this issue.  Repercussions? Forefoot pain, clenching/hammering of her toes from use of the long flexors to dampen loading of the metatarsal heads, and even possibly anterior shin splint like pain.

2. The lady is clearly in more lateral toe off, this is from the intoe’ing we see. This is low gear toe off. She may have limb torsion, internal tibial torsion to be specific, or insufficent external hip rotation control as a possibility. There are several possibilities here.

3. Hard to say, but the man seems to be crossing over more.

There is also no arm swing, hands are in the pockets, this is a big hit to gait economy. We have discussed these numbers in previous blog posts, the numbers are significant and real.  Step width is also a real factor, reduced step width leads to joint stacking challenges and is found with weaker hip abductors and changes in the iliotibial band length.

A picture can be worth a thousand words. I am a few short of the mark today, but I wanted to keep it short.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

This is apparently a growing thing, INTERVAL walking. Oy. We are not particular fans at this point, nothing exciting or earth shattering at this point (other than the concerns we hi light below) but we will look into it more.
What you need to see, and be aware of, is that this is what happens when you wear a shoe that has too soft a rear foot. At heel strike, instead of progressing forward into the mid and forefoot, the rear foot of the shoe deforms and forces you into more HEEL rocker, sustained heel rocker. If you stay in heel rocker too long, you won’t progress forward into ANKLE rocker (ankle dorsiflexion). This often causes knee hyperextension. If you have a good trained eye, you will see both of these things, prolonged heel rocker and never any ankle rocker/ankle dorsiflexion. IT is like the ankle in this video is frozen at 90 degrees the entire time, train your eye to see this absense of ankle rocker. This will cause premature heel rise and premature posterior compartment contraction which can cause premature forefoot loading. This is what happens when the heel of the shoe is too soft. A perfect example of “more cushion” is not always better. IT can be a liability as well. Remember the angry revolution over the MBT shoe and its mushy rear foot?. Same principle, same risks and concerns. Welcome to round two of the same old problems ????? Maybe. you decide. To be clear, this is a comment on the shoes being used, the technique is , well, perhaps interesting. That is all we are willing to comment on at this point until we look into it more. Look at the heel and ankle mechanics during the slow mo clips.
Sorry Ben Greenfield. We are not impressed, as of yet. We like your podcast Ben, you are doing us all a great service, but this one is promoting some potential problems that people need to know about.
Start with our “Shuffle Walk”. Google search it under the Gait Guys. That is a good start.

– Dr. Allen

Pod #100: Hill Running + Cortical Brain Changes in Injuries

Pod #100  Hill Running + Cortical Brain Brain Changes in Injuries, Plus leg length challenges, Sole vs Heel lifts, Varying your Running Surface, Frontal plane biomechanics, Baker Cyst and Popliteal Muscle problems and more !

Show Sponsors:  
topoathletic.com
rocktape.com

Other Gait Guys stuff

A. Podcast links:

direct download URL: http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_100f.mp3

permalink URL: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-100-hill-running-cortical-brain-brain-changes-in-injuries

B. iTunes link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : www.onlinece.com type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

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

-Amazon/Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/Pedographs-Gait-Analysis-Clinical-Studies-ebook/dp/B00AC18M3E

-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pedographs-and-gait-analysis-ivo-waerlop-and-shawn-allen/1112754833?ean=9781466953895

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pedographs-and-gait-analysis/id554516085?mt=11

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:
http://bookstore.trafford.com/Products/SKU-000155825/Pedographs-and-Gait-Analysis.aspx

Show Notes:

1 Cortical change in chronic low back pain

http://www.anatomy-physiotherapy.com/articles/other/nervous/1329-cortical-change-in-chronic-low-back-pain
-Chronic low back pain is characterised by a range of structural, functional and neurochemical changes within the brain. Functional changes in individuals with chronic low back pain are reflected in a cortical reorganization, altered cortical activity and altered cortical responsiveness.

2  Lifting weights can change the brain
http://www.techvibes.com/blog/lifting-weights-can-beneficially-change-structure-of-brain-2015-10-27

3  Importance of varying running surfaces
http://triathlon.competitor.com/2015/05/training/importance-varying-running-surfaces_100995

4  Emergence of postural patterns as a function of vision and translation frequency.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10322069
J Neurophysiol. 1999 May;81(5):2325-39.
Our results suggest that visual information was important to maintaining a fixed position of the head and trunk in space, whereas proprioceptive information was sufficient to produce stable coordinative patterns between the support surface and legs.     *The CNS organizes postural patterns in this balance task as a function of available sensory information, biomechanical constraints, and translation frequency.

5  Previous hamstring injury is associated with altered kinematics.
“Previously injured athletes demonstrated significantly reduced biceps femoris muscle activation ratios with respect to ipsilateral gluteus maximus, ipsilateral erector spinae, ipsilateral external oblique, and contralateral rectus femoris in the late swing phase. We also detected sagittal asymmetry in hip flexion, pelvic tilt, and medial rotation of the knee effectively putting the hamstrings in a lengthened position just before heel strike.”

The biomechanics of running in athletes with previous hamstring injury: A case-control study. C. Daly1, U. McCarthy Persson2, R. Twycross-Lewis1, R. C. Woledge1,† andD. Morrissey1,

Podcast 77: Gait analysis, Forefoot Running & more.

Plus, the 5 neurologic gait compensation expressions.

*Show sponsor: www.newbalancechicago.com

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_77final.mp3

Direct Download: 

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-77

B. iTunes link:

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

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

Google X acquires ‘tremor-canceling spoon’ startup
http://venturebeat.com/2014/09/10/google-x-acquires-tremor-canceling-spoon-startup/

The 5 expressions of neurologic gait decomposition,
Last week we did an online teleseminar … . .
An acoustic startle alters knee joint stiffness and neuromuscular control
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12315/abstract
Effectiveness of Off-the-Shelf, Extra-Depth Footwear in Reducing Foot Pain in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial
http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/08/gerona.glu169.abstract
reader:
I really appreciate learning from you!! I have a bit of a loaded question that I will try to explain clearly to the best of my ability. About 2 years ago, I broke my left shin (hairline-fibula) in a MMA fight. After it healed, a few things have been happening that I assume are connected but can’t quite put my finger on. My ankle mobility on my left ankle is worse than my left. I seem to have permanent turf toe as well. My right glute, ham, and erector are hyperactive.
Additionally, many times when sprinting, pushing a sled, etc, my right quad will become fatigued much more than my left. I believe it’s because I’m not fully extending my left ankle, and relying on my right leg more. Whenever I squat or deadlift, I feel similar too. The right glute and erectors get much more of a “pump” than my left. With all of this, is there anything you would recommend? I truly appreciate it!! It is very frustrating. Thank you again!

Podcast 77: Gait analysis, Forefoot Running & more.

Plus, the 5 neurologic gait compensation expressions.

*Show sponsor: www.newbalancechicago.com

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_77final.mp3

Direct Download: 

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-77

B. iTunes link:

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

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

Google X acquires ‘tremor-canceling spoon’ startup
http://venturebeat.com/2014/09/10/google-x-acquires-tremor-canceling-spoon-startup/

The 5 expressions of neurologic gait decomposition,
Last week we did an online teleseminar … . .
An acoustic startle alters knee joint stiffness and neuromuscular control
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sms.12315/abstract
Effectiveness of Off-the-Shelf, Extra-Depth Footwear in Reducing Foot Pain in Older People: A Randomized Controlled Trial
http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/08/gerona.glu169.abstract
reader:
I really appreciate learning from you!! I have a bit of a loaded question that I will try to explain clearly to the best of my ability. About 2 years ago, I broke my left shin (hairline-fibula) in a MMA fight. After it healed, a few things have been happening that I assume are connected but can’t quite put my finger on. My ankle mobility on my left ankle is worse than my left. I seem to have permanent turf toe as well. My right glute, ham, and erector are hyperactive.
Additionally, many times when sprinting, pushing a sled, etc, my right quad will become fatigued much more than my left. I believe it’s because I’m not fully extending my left ankle, and relying on my right leg more. Whenever I squat or deadlift, I feel similar too. The right glute and erectors get much more of a “pump” than my left. With all of this, is there anything you would recommend? I truly appreciate it!! It is very frustrating. Thank you again!
Steppage gait ? Or just a runway model ?  Take the thinking farther.
Today we have a short blog post for you. You may take the topic simply on the surface or cogitate over it and find some deeper epiphanies from the well of knowledge we have tried to present here on our blog for the past 4+ years.  
It is clear that in this video that the model has a consciously driven steppage gait. Meaning, she is lifting her limb/foot via exaggerated hip flexion and knee flexion to clear the foot.  This is often seen unilaterally in a foot drop case where the client has a neurologic lesion that for one reason or another has impaired the client’s ability to extend the toes or dorsiflex the ankle sufficiently to clear the foot (so they do not drag toes and trip/fall).  
But, why is she doing this steppage gait ? It is highly unlikely that she has bilateral lesions.  Sure, she was asked to walk this way by her mentor but again, take it further.  Is there a factor making this gait necessary regardless of the coaching ? 
Obviously the answer is yes or we wouldn’t be doing a blog post on this topic.  She is wearing ridiculously high heels. This is forcing her into an extreme plantarflexed foot and ankle posture. IF she were to swing her leg normally during the swing phase she would drive the foot and ankle into dorsiflexion (a normal gait event) and the long pointed heel would be made more prominent as it was driven forward and downward. This would surely catch on the ground, immediately driving the foot into sudden violent forefoot loading and pitch her into a forward fall.  Yes, you have seen this on the run way videos on youtube, and yes we know you laughed too ! You see, when wearing heels this high, one must deploy a certain degree of steppage gait to clear the heel because ankle plantarflexion is fraught with the risk we just discussed above, the heel is too prominent and will catch. How much steppage (knee flexion and hip flexion to clear the foot) is necessary ? Well, to a large degree it depends on how much of a heel is present.  If you are wearing a small heeled shoe, lets say 1 inch, then a small steppage is necessary.
None the less, there is a bigger problem lurking and brewing underneath when heels are a regular occurrence. Slowly and gradually the disuse of the anterior compartment muscles (Extensor dig., Ext. hallucis, peroneus tertius, tibialis anterior) will weaken and the posterior compartment will shorten respectively. IF left too long, it will result in tightness (yes, there is a difference between tightness and shortness, one is a neurlogical protective mechanism, the other is a more permanent change.) We have said this many times here and in our videos, much of posterior compartment problems (ie achilles tendonitis, Sever’s, Hagglunds etc) are related to a degree of anterior compartment weakness, skill deficits or endurance challenges.  Wearing high heels often will often, but not always, increase this risk. 
If you are an athlete, but someone who wears high heels often, you may have to do extra work to keep your anterior compartment competent on several levels.  Eccentric strength is just as important as concentric in this region. Remember, many gait problems come on slowly, a slow simmering smoldering fire. And remember this last point about heeled shoes, your forefoot is always being loaded initially in ankle plantarflexion, this is not normal and in time this will have a cost in many people.  
One last thing. We are not necessarily talking about dress shoes, although they are a greater culprit.  Many running shoes still have accentuated rear foot stack heights where the heel will be many millimeters above the plane of the forefoot.  Do not discount these shoes as a possible contributor of your problem, remember, physiological adaptation takes time to express into a biomechanical symptom creating problem, and it may take quite some time to resolve your compensations and adaptations.
PS: drive that “cross over gait” lady.  Fools.
Shawn and Ivo
the gait guys