Heel-Ball,Ball-Heel or Heel only

I've just started running again after about 10 months mainly because of njury to start with then just because I was doing other exercise.Im feeling very heavy on my feet and am having slight problems with my shins,as I did last time.

Im just wondering how most other people run.Is it ok to heel-ball as Ive read that slows you down,which I think that is the way Ive been running lately.I've read other artcles which say you should'nt land on your heels at all.I struggled with my running last time and Im convinced its my technique that is causing this.I would just be interested in hearing other peoples views on how you land.




  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    I wouldn't advise running on your balls, to be honest.
  • I quite often land on my face, but then I'm very clumsy.
  • Sorry. Serious reply; some people naturally run on the balls of their feet, some naturally heelstrike. In my experience it's best to go with your natural gait, but there are threads on "pose" and "chi" running which you may find interesting.
  • Thanks for the witty replies.Slo Sho I've read those threads and thats what seems to be confusing me.It makes it sound very complicated.I have to be honest I thought just running in my natural gait would be the best way as well but with the problems Im having I wasnt too sure or perhaps it is something else.

  • Run in your own natural gait. Just think what would happen if Paula Radcliffe tried to alter her running style.

    I don't think she would improve
  • My feet seem to hit the ground flat, which makes for a noisy run!!, my Gran would have said I "run like a flat footed policeman". Is this normal? my feet go numb after about half an hour of running but i take a brief walk break and then I can run for another hour and a half without a problem, but afterwards the arch of my feet hurt.

    I'm doing my first 10k next week so I'll get an idea of how everyone else does it, I just wondered if anyone else could give me some advice in the meantime as I don't want to look like a complete plank next week. Also I'm doing a half marathon mid June and don't want the running to become a health problem.

    Your help on this would be really appreciated.

  • I expect you'll find Paula has spent a long time perfecting her style to be more efficient etc. All athletics coaches have a 'model' for the perfect execution of an event, running included. This is what they use drills to try and acheive, they don't just run in their natural gait and hope for the best. If they do it, why can't we.

    Re balls and heels etc. As a carp runner myself i have always believed there has to be a more bio-mechanically efficient way of running other than the lumbering style nature and my office job has left me with. In all honestly have a look at chi-running. It's not that hard, gives you simple things to think about when running and anything that emphasises core strength and injury prevention has got to be good.

    Not that i would say I chi-run with the greatest of success but it did help fix my IT band and shin splint problems that came from heel striking. And it's nice to have something to aim for rather than just running and hoping it all works out okay.

    It was one of those weird things where I changed style gradually one summer and people started commenting on how much more 'comfortable' I looked while running. Go figure.
  • heel....ball...heel..ball..heel..ball.heel.ballheelballheelballarse:o-
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    Serious reply.

    Whether you look at Pose or Chi rather depends on how seriously you take your running. I view them as more to do with marketing than anything else, but others may differ.

    It also depends on how fast you run. My gait varies according to pace. If I'm doing faster (relative term) stuff I tend to hit the ground more with my forefoot, and try to adopt a kind of cycling or circular motion with my legs (does this make sense?) When out for a slow plod I tend to land more flat-footedly. This is logical, I suppose, because the forefoot strike maintains more momentum.

    I'm trying to adopt a lighter forefoot-ish footstrike, but it doesn't come easily at the end of a 15-mile run like this morning.

    In brief: my advice is stick with your natural biomechanics and maybe try minor adjustments to suit your pace, rather than force yourself into someone else's idea of perfect running form.
  • Thanks for the replies.I tried today to run just on the ball of my feet and I have to say I found it difficult.It was generally harder and I was slower by about 2-3 minutes over only 3.5km.I may have started off doing too much too soon but I've only done 20 miles over about 2.5 weeks so its not a great deal,but I consider myself to be fairly fit but obviously not in running sense.I feel as if Im getting worse rather than improving.

  • Ian I'm with Johnny J - if it's not that you're building up too fast it's quite likely your shoes. Have you been to a reputable running specialist where they watch you run on a treadie before selling you shoes? Also don't forget - even if you're otherwise pretty fit, running makes its own intensive demands on the body and some initial discomfort is not unusual.
  • Thanks Slo Sho,I think you might be right in overdoing it.My training before this was general circuits but very intense Push-ups,Sit-ups,Squats and Burpees etc so this was the sort of exercise my legs were getting.I bought my trainers from Start Fitness in Newcastle.I didnt go on the treadmill but he did check my feet and got me to do a couple of movements.So I think they should hopefully be ok.

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    The shoes point is a valid one.

    One other thing, as this chimes in something that I've been doing lately, ie adjusting my running gait.

    From my position in the pack I rarely see the fast guys, but when I do I've noticed that the really speedy one usually don't look as if they're putting much effort into it. Instead of running with great big bounds (like RW cover models!), they seem to pitter-patter along with a short step and high cadence, not lifting their feet very high off the deck. The longer the stride, the greater the "pitchfork" effect, which is jarring on the joints, quite apart from being inefficient because the impact steals forces from the momentum.

    Since I've tried to adjust my style I've noticed my times improving, although that could of course be due to other factors.

    So Ian, if you're a heavy-footed plodder try taking shorter quicker steps and running "lightly" with a more circular motion of the legs. Think cycling. And get your shoes checked.

    But at the end of the day (urgh, did I just say that?) your body is what it is and there's only so much we can do to alter our biomechanics. And there's nothing wrong with not being a fast or light runner!
  • Here here to that advice. The 'good' runners generally have a cadence of 180 which seemed really fast to me to begin with. Then I noticed that everyone overtaking me was donig pretty much exactly that cadence. You need to take smaller lighter steps and ideally you will be landing with your foot right beneath your centre of gravity rather than in front of you . It is the landing in front of you that causes the braking effect.

    Please please do not go out and start trying to run on the balls of your feet. Neither pose of chi tell you to try that. Rather you address your posture FIRST and then the other parts follow on.

    (I would seriously disagree about chi as just being marketing - Having met Danny Dryer and Katherine (ahh forgot second name - ran for Ireland in olympics) these folks are the real deal. They have a genuine love of running and truly believe they are teaching a method that aids better running with fewer injurys. )
  • Hi Ian,

    I asked a similar question recently and got lots of good advice - here's the thread.

    Was landing heavily on my feet and I think that was one of the reasons I was ending up injured. Am trying to land lightly and on my mid-foot, which already seems to be a more efficient and (so far) injury free way of running.

    Hope that helps,
  • I run ball-heel and do NOT run POSE or Chi.
  • Thaanks again for the replies.From replies I've been getting it does sound like I am possibly overstriding rather than having a quick cadence.Im going for a short run today to see how Im running abit more and try to change a few things.

  • Are you thinking of Catherina McKiernan, Gymaddict?

    I went to a Chi Running workshop and found it very helpful.
  • I dont know what POSE or CHI is, never heard of it.

    Can it be shoved up your nose
  • That's the lady - she was fab.
  • I ran with much shorter strides yesterday and found it much easier infact I was slightly quicker with a lower heart rate.So I think that will help me alot.Thanks for advice on that.My shins were still slightly painful but Im going to try running today with some arch supports which I used in my old trainers and had no problems.I've just realised the trainers Im running in have no arch supports so hopefully this is causing the problem as I have been told in past(I've just remembered!) a mild pronator.I'll let know how I get on.

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