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Footstrike and Running Injuries

Posted Sep 19 2012 9:06am

I was reading through the new Harvard study on how footstrike affects injuries.  From the abstract:

"Approximately 74% of runners experienced a moderate or severe injury each year, but those who habitually rearfoot strike had approximately twice the rate of repetitive stress injuries than individuals who habitually forefoot strike."

First, here's some background.  This study was done on Harvard University cross-country runners.  A few things should be pointed out:

1) they probably run in groups often (which is good according to my last post )

2) they probably run on natural terrain often (since this is cross-country)

3) they are young

4) they are under the supervision of a coach

5) they are intelligent (since they did get into Harvard after all)

Yet given all these advantages, 74% of these runners still experienced running injuries.  Amazing (and not in a good way)!  You would think with the deck stacked so far in their favor, that the injury rate would be low.

This study should make it clear that having a forefoot strike does not, by itself, guarantee that you have good running form.  This study does show that running with a forefoot strike is correlated with fewer injuries than running with a rearfoot strike.

In some of the press with this article, they talked about the shoes worn by the runners.  They said some runners wore regular running shoes and became injured, while some wore minimal shoes and became injured.  They saw no real pattern in regards to shoe type and injury.  So you could make one other conclusion from the study: wearing minimal running shoes does not prevent running injuries.

More in the next post...

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