Forefoot running doesn’t lessen injury risk or improve economy say scientists

Despite popular belief a recent study finds that changing to forefoot running doesn't lead to fewer injuries or better running economy

Credit: Daniel Seex

Vibram’s Five Fingers, Newton’s lugged shoes and Chris McDougall’s 2010 bestseller Born to Run all helped cultivate the forefoot-running movement.

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It was a reaction to the run-shoe industry’s focus on heavy heel cushioning, which, the argument went, steered gaits into ‘unnatural’ heel-toe motions. It made sense. Look at the top runners and they’re predominantly forefoot-ers.

Recent research, however, suggests otherwise. Professor Laura Anderson and her team analysed 53 studies into run biomechanics and concluded that there is little evidence to show changing to forefoot running leads to fewer injuries, or that running on your toes is more economical and faster. They suggest instead that you should maximise your natural stride.

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We’re sure experts such as Mike Antonaides of The Running School would contest these findings, and say that retraining your run gait can pay dividends, but with three disciplines to train for, arguably this isn’t high on a triathlete’s to-do list.