Most common injuries for heel strikers

[00:00:00] I’ve talked about running form in other videos on this channel, but today I want to talk about the particular injuries that people who heel strike deal with. Now, if you’re a forefoot striker, stick around. We’re going to cover that in another video. But if you heel strike, these are the injuries that are most common to you and how to avoid them.

[00:00:28] If you haven’t been on the channel before, I’m Jesse Funk this is a show I call Runner’s High, where we talk about everything running in endurance-related. So if you run, which clearly you do because you want to know about heel striking injuries, subscribe. Stick around on the channel for more videos every Tuesday and Thursday.

[00:00:44] So first, let’s get out of the gate and say heel striking in itself is not necessarily a problem. It is potentially a problem depending on how it occurs. So before we get into the injuries, I want to explain this because heel striking kind of got a bad rap. And I definitely thought this way for a number of years around college ish and ended up injuring myself in other ways, trying to adjust it.

[00:01:16] So when we want to talk about heel striking, we want to focus on where exactly your foot is landing. So I’m going to see if I can slow down this slight clip of me running and racing. I’m a forefoot striker, but it should demonstrate what’s going on, and that is when I’m running. Then there’s a point when my foot touches the ground and we want that point regardless of whether you heel strike or whether you forefoot strike to be roughly right underneath you.

[00:01:49] So I don’t know how my video editor do this, but let’s go through that clip and look at it so you can see in the clip as we do slo mo, hopefully that my foot is landing right underneath me. When you’re running slower, the tendency is to strike closer to your heel. Here. Here. You know, the problem is when you stick your foot way out in front of you.

[00:02:18] So if you’ve seen, like, pictures of yourself or you’ve got video of you racing or running and your foot is projected way out in front of you, or your heel hits the ground first. That’s where it’s more problematic. And that’s where injuries are probably going to crop up more commonly than if you’re going to land underneath you. So let’s get into what specifically that lends itself to and is there a way to fix it?

[00:02:44] The biggest one really is knee pain or and lower leg pain. So shins that area. And the reason is, again, because when you stick that foot out front, you’re effectively braking every single time that you’re hitting the ground. So you’re giving yourself this forward momentum, right? You’re pushing off up the back. You’re going forward, you’re running, trying to move forward. Right. But then you’re braking every single time you take a step.

[00:03:12] What’s happening instead of continuing to transfer that motion forward. As you said, I’m going forward. No, I’m going backwards. Going forwards. No, I’m going backwards. In that force that you’ve generated to push yourself forwards. You’re now taking that force and applying it to your skeletal system. And what’s going to be the weak point there, your knee, because it’s a joint, it’s in between the bones, it has more moving parts.

[00:03:41] So you get the load going through your tibia and your lower leg skeletal system into your knee. And then your femur is just big old bones. So it’s not going to be as susceptible to damage. And your knee takes the brunt of the force. So people often get runner’s knee, they go, Oh, my knee hurts. It’s probably because of this. There’s also the potential for like metatarsal stress fractures. So like metatarsal bones, the bones in your feet, there’s 22 bones in your feet. It’s escaping me. Maybe it’s 26, 27 bones in your feet.

[00:04:22] So there are all these tiny little bones in your feet again, because they’re right at the brunt of impact they’re smaller. That means that they have a lower breaking point than those larger bones in your legs. You can also be susceptible to that. The fix for both of these goes back to what I said in the beginning getting to where your heel lands underneath your body and stay tuned to the end of the video. I’ll give you a very quick way on how to fix that easily without working too hard.

[00:04:55] The other two really common injuries for heel foot heel strikers, heel pain, obviously, because that is the point of contact itself. And sometimes this can be issues with that bone back there in your foot that is taking the brunt and you’re going towards stress fracture. It can be messing with your Achilles, your plantar fascia, all the stuff that connects right there at the back of your foot where you’re hitting the ground.

[00:05:26] And then also, oddly enough, back pain that that shock that you’re giving to your system every time you’re breaking can run up through and then to your back. I also notice people who who do this, who have a heel foot strike often have what we lovingly refer to as “mom butt” sorry to the moms in the crowd. But this is like, see if I can demonstrate. So this is like when you’re running, ideally I have to hold myself here. You’re in this position, so you are slightly lean forward, your body’s straight. Mom butt, on the other hand, typically runners are standing up, straight up and then their butt is out like this. And they run like that.

[00:06:17] So if you’ve seen if you’ve seen pictures of yourself and you’ve got that like squat almost like you’re sitting down position. That’s also problematic. So I see those kind of together and all of them can kind of be fixed with this easy solution. One do your planks because that improves your core stability so you can get that nice lean and stay straight. But the heel striking in particular is a relatively simple fix because all you have to do is increase your cadence.

[00:06:50] So if you run at, say, 70 RPMs, we’re counting one leg at a time. Increase it. You want to move towards 90? I wouldn’t use it as a hard and fast rule. Some people are a little bit faster, some people a little bit slower. But as you increase your cadence, you are forced to land underneath you. The exact biomechanics I’ll explain in another video on the channel where I’ve talked about running form them before. So subscribe. Hopefully, my video team can link to that video at the end. If not, then tell me in the comments and I’ll do another video in the future.

[00:07:30] But when you increase your cadence, that helps you move that foot from striking up front and to striking underneath you. So if you just focus on that mentally, then that prevents a lot of these injuries. There are rehab routines you can do if you are dealing with these injuries, which is more than the scope of this video, but these are the things to look out for. So if you already having these issues and you don’t have videos of yourself, then likely this is what’s going on. So try that trick. Try focusing on improving your cadence, not your effort. You want to push off harder, you just want to spin faster, and that should hopefully alleviate some of these issues.

[00:08:14] So do you have any questions for me about running, about anything, leave them down the comments below. Love to do a video for you and I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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