Among numerous strategies applied by athletes to improve their running speed, forefoot running happens to be the most favorite. Let us see how one can take up this skill and become a forefoot runner.
Sports is a profession that demands speed and action. It is a field where one races against time and mere fractions of a second can decide who's the victor and loser of a game. In such a scenario, sportsmen may turn to using new techniques to put themselves in an advantageous position.
Most people have a tendency to run and walk by touching their heel firmly on the ground. Gradually, the entire foot touches the ground, until it is lifted once again to complete the cycle of running. The whole process may seem simple and normal to a layman. This traditional and common way of running is called heel or mid-foot running.
On the other hand, the forefoot running technique can increase a runner's speed, but demands an intense effort from the runner to master it. Here is how one can become a forefoot runner.
Steps to Becoming a Forefoot Runner
I must say that forefoot running cannot be done subconsciously when you start practicing it. All beginners will need to take conscious efforts to make a transition in their running style from the natural 'heel' running to forefoot running. You will also need to train your mind to concentrate on the way you jog or run. I recommend all beginners to start off at a very slow pace. Most dedicated runners are able to adapt to forefoot running within a span of 30 to 45 days.
Buy Forefoot Running Shoes One of the best ways to grasp this skill is to go and buy a pair of special forefoot running shoes of a renowned brand. These shoes are designed with a low heel while the forefoot area has extra cushioning for added foot comfort during forefoot running practice. Start practicing this running technique by wearing these shoes from day one.
Forefoot Running Practice The following are some important guidelines that you need to follow for a fruitful practice session
Remember to dedicate a few minutes for warm up before you start running. Start walking at a slow pace, then do some heel flicks, or forward lunges. The point is to make sure that you don't break into a run without stretching your muscles, otherwise you may end up with injuries. Ideally a warm up may last for 5 to 10 minutes.
If you are a beginner, then practicing in the evening is the most suitable time to do so. This is because, the muscles in our feet loosen up later in the day. It is easier to practice a new exercise or running technique when your muscles are most flexible.
Do not expect your feet to cope up with long distance jogs when you start out. Limit your jogs to a mere 2 miles for the first fortnight.
Start practicing by bending slightly forward. You might feel like bending your knees a little. Do it, as it will reduce some initial stress.
Listen to what your feet tell you and stop jogging if your feet signal discomfort while running.
Ideally, shuttle your jogs between heels and forefeet styles from time to time till you feel ready to stick to your new style.
Make sure to gently massage the balls of your feet at the end of every jogging session. You may bathe your feet with warm water and Epsom salt to relieve the stress.
Fake Jogging This refers to a technique where one jogs at a single spot on a flat surface. This technique can be used at home or at work for practicing forefoot running. For those who wish to practice this technique, I suggest that you lean forward slightly and jog at a fixed pace.
Ensure to land your feet at a point that is your center of gravity. Use of a treadmill is considered ideal for such practice as you can control your jogging speed effectively.
After consistent practice, your body will switchover to this technique in a certain period of time. You will notice a gradual decrease in muscle pain and stress as your feet get adjusted to receiving pressure and weight on the balls of your feet rather than the heels.
Research shows that muscles in a runner's feet strengthen when he practices forefoot running. This helps to reduce occurrence of muscle pain and injuries along with common athletic problems such as tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, runner's knee, and fractures.
Mid-foot and heel running is known to induce pressure on the arch of the foot. This can get stressful in the long run and can even cause a collapsed arch in the foot. Forefoot running on the other hand, can help to reduce this problem to a great scale.
People who opted to use this technique have reported a considerable reduction in calf muscle pain.
A normal method of running or jogging can put a lot of stress on the knees and hips of a person. This is because our knees and hips act like shock absorbers. On the other hand, forefoot running eliminates the passing of a shock or a jerk to the hips. This can considerably reduce problems of hip and back pain on account of running.
Health Benefits of Forefoot Running
• Forefoot running will increase your running speed in the long run. Similarly, it offers many health benefits to the people practicing this art. Here is why you should switch to forefoot running.
Forefoot running helps conserve energy levels of people who practice this technique.This technique is considered as a key to success for athletes as well as those who love jogging as an exercise.
If however, you experience unbearable pain in your feet then stop the practice immediately. Consult an expert in sports medicine to discuss methods of eliminating further problems.