Emerging Evidence On Footstrike Patterns In Running
In two recent case studies, both by Diebal and colleagues, runners with anterior chronic exertional compartment syndrome who underwent gait retraining from a rearfoot striking pattern to a forefoot striking pattern showed a significant decrease in pain and disability when running.29,30 Therefore, with this gait retraining research in mind, sports podiatrists may consider suggesting that a rearfoot striking runner with anterior chronic exertional compartment syndrome should make a gradual change to a midfoot or forefoot striking running pattern due to the initial positive results reported by Diebal and colleagues in treating this disabling running injury.
In conclusion, the barefoot/minimalist shoe advocates and the “alternative running technique” advocates have made a number of claims about footstrike patterns in running over the past five years. Unfortunately, very few, if any, of these claims have any support within the scientific research literature.
Sports podiatrists who treat recreational and competitive runners need to be aware of the latest running research in order to be able to offer their patients thorough information and advice. Both recreational and competitive running athletes trust that sports podiatrists, as the foot and running shoe experts of their medical communities, are their best source for accurate information on running biomechanics, running injuries and proper footstrike patterns, and that the information they provide is based on scientific fact, not the latest fad.
Dr. Kirby is an Adjunct Associate Professor within the Department of Applied Biomechanics at the California School of Podiatric Medicine at Samuel Merritt University in Oakland, Calif. He is in private practice in Sacramento, Calif.