Study of Olympic Runners Shows No Superior Footstrike
Barefoot or minimalist? Midfoot or forefoot strike? New studies show the debate may be null.
The fitness industry is full of hotly contested opinions. Which shoe to wear and how to land are two of the current topics being debated by scientists, trainers, engineers and even the athletes themselves. Footstrike and shoe design are interdependent on each other. How you land determines the shoe you should wear. At the same time, many runners are selecting a shoe that they think will help them improve a certain form of running.
But how much of that really matters to performance? Researchers at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT captured the landing position of elite 10K competitors in the U.S. Olympic Trials last June. The photos show that none of the runners follow any trend or specific form. Some land on their heel, some on their forefoot, and some on their entire foot, but no two strike with their foot in the exact same position. There does not appear to be a trend from slowest to fastest either. It’s humbling to think that even the slowest competitor in this 10K posted a time that many of us amateurs would be proud of in a 5K.
The truth is that physiology plays a much larger role in the development of elite endurance athletes than the thickness of the rubber on their foot.
Photos Courtesy of Dr. Iain Hunter and BYU Biomechanics