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Did The Army Just Help Disprove The ‘Heel-Striking Myth’?
Results from the new study, based on US Army personnel, were presented at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. The conclusion is clear, according to Dr Bradley Warr, co-author of the paper (Footstrike Patterns do not Influence Running Related Overuse Injuries in U.S. Army Soldiers).
The bottom line is that we need to be very cautious changing someone’s running style.
A similar conclusion was reached by Craig Payne at RunResearchJunkie.com, given the results from other studies on the heel-striking issue.
There are no systematic differences in the injury rates when comparing heel vs midfoot/forefoot strikers or barefoot/minimalist vs shod when running.
An end to the ‘heel-striking myth’?
Other experts were less convinced. Harrison notes the thoughts of Irene Davis, director of the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard University. The advocate of barefoot running questioned various aspects of the study, such as its retrospective nature and the fact that the injuries were self-reported.
She also was unconvinced by the sample involved, given that many of the soldiers did not run a great deal.
I think that’s a big flaw of that study.
More reading on heel-striking and running injuries
New research for runners on the 'heel-striking myth'
What interesting new research tells us about running, heel-striking and injuries
Purpose: This retrospective study tests if runners who habitually forefoot strike have different rates of injury than runners who habitually rearfoot strike. Methods: We measured the strike characteristics of middle- and long-distance runners from a collegiate cross-country team and quantified their history of injury, including the incidence and rate of specific injuries, the severity of each injury, and the rate of mild, moderate, and severe injuries per mile run.
This is the ground reaction force generated when heel strike running in shoes. Notice that this force trace has the impact transient characteristic of heel strikes (a nearly instantaneous, large force experienced at impact when heel striking). Shoes do reduce this impact force when heel striking, but does not eliminate it.
Guess what it found? We already know that the preponderance of evidence probably shows that there is no systematic differences in the injury rates when comparing heel vs midfoot/forefoot strikers or barefoot/minimalist vs shod when running. Now we have this new study to add to that.