There are various ongoing debates about heel striking versus forefoot striking. They often discuss studies related to injury rates and running efficiency. But there remains a sort of acceptance that top distance athletes heel strike as this is the way to achieve ultimate performance when winning is what matters. A new study though shows that this is not true……….. well definitely not true for the top US athletes competing for places in the Olympics 10k race.
Iain Hunter at Brigham Young University has captured high speed video of the top men and women competing for places in the 10k event at the Olympics. Whilst shorter events that involve sprinting will inevitably involve forefoot striking, 10k is a long enough distance for the runners to use whatever technique they think will deliver the best results over a long distance.
Iain has captured images of the left and right foot strike of every runners. By my reckoning 6 of the top 10 men are forefoot striking. To my surprise the proportion of women is lower at 4 out of the first 10. This is counter to my comments in previous posts suggesting that I that heel striking might be a predominately “male” habit.
What this data proves is that the majority of top US male 10k runners choose to forefoot footstrike (including the top 2) and they are not concerned with injury or the “barefoot experience”. They want to go as fast as humanly possible. So don’t think for a moment that forefoot striking means compromising on speed if you do it effectively.