Monday, September 5, 2011

Why Midfoot landing is Wrong in Running

Finally back to running again. At long last the tendinitis on the left foot is starting to calm down - mainly through finally identifying the cause from cycling/pedalling technique. The running was still potentially a problem though. Even walking on the mountain a few days ago had occasionally been painful, but the last cycling workout had not aggravated the injury, seemingly identifying and removing the real cause of the injury. 

There is a lot of talk about "midfoot" landing in running - that is advocated in ChiRunning and often scientific reports claim that elite runners mainly land midfoot. In ChiRunning the target landing site is just in front of the heel. Well, the only way that you can get anything to make first contact with the ground somewhere between the heel and the forefoot is to roll the foot outwards onto the outside edge (supinate) and land on the outside edge of the foot. This way you certainly do land midfoot - but right over the top of the 5th Metatarsal joint - at the insertion of the peroneus brevis tendon! In my particular case I wasn't trying to land midfoot, I was trying to land on the ball of the foot, but on the outside part of the ball of the foot, following the advice of Gordon Pirie's book Running Fast and Injury Free. Pirie advocates having the feet land one in front of the other instead of hip width apart. This also encourages landing on a supinated foot. In my case I wasn't able to stop myself from landing midfoot and so continued to strain the peroneus brevis tendon. Further analysis made it clear that the real reason for the error in my case was that that my foot was still landing slightly too far ahead of the body (old cushioned heels habit). By making sure that the foot landed directly below the body and lengthening the stride behind the body instead (with pelvis involved) I was able to completely avoid landing midfoot and accurately land on the outside portion of the ball of the foot. Yesterday, I returned to running painlessly and was able to cover 8km in 40mins without once hurting the foot. Only a week ago I was still in significant pain from the effects of cycling on this injury.
Basically the cure for the problem has been to increase awareness and develop better technique in both running and cycling. In the process of doing so I can now confirm that "midfoot" landing in running is categorically WRONG.

Had I rested up and sought a standard medical solution for the problem - I'm sure that I'd never have managed to move ahead like this.

Used Google "MyTracks" app for running yesterday because Endomondo crashed and I didn't want to wait for a system re-boot which is the only way to recover from that problem. MyTracks is useless though - the distance and hence the speed is way off because they have no position filtering. What a stupid piece of software! The Garmin forerunner 305 had stuck itself in MultiSport mode and it was impossible to find a way out of it. It's such a shame to always have excellent hardware but cr*p software in everything.

(Update: Time showed me that the foot pain was caused cycling and that midfoot striking is not wrong - in fact it's probably safer and more efficient than forefoot striking.)

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