Forefoot/midfoot strike

After being unable to run for 3 months after a biking injury I have been thinking about a change to my form. I am going to be building up my running pretty much from scratch run/walk I figure it may be a good opportunity to use a forefoot strike.I have been only doing leg strength training for the last month and I am planning to start back running next week.

Does anyone have any tips on how to change to a forefoot strike or point me in the direction of good sources?

Would people recommend getting a barefoot trainers instead or can I make the transition in my asics gels?

Sorry if the topic has been done to death here! Really interested hearing peoples opinion on the transitions they have been on.




  • Whats to learn? Just run like you're not quite on tip toe.

  • Would go with Lardarse - you need to concentrate until it comes naturally You may finf initially that there is additional strain on your lower leg muscles - - what I do find confusing, if you are going to run barefoot why do you need trainers?

  • Pretty obvious really I guess, thanks chaps. 

    Unfortunately living in London I would not make it more than a few hundred yards before treading on glass. Not sure I am man enough for that. 

    Have you both noticed the benefits of a forefoot strike and also do you beth run totally barefoot?

  • I'd recommend you get barefoot or minimalist shoes now. I did that after a bit of a lay off and found that, because I was starting off at a low mileage, it allowed me to ease into it. My stride has improved to be shorter, quicker and landing under my hips. You do feel it a little in your calves but as you're starting from scratch, it shouldn't be too much of an issue (unless affected by your injury) and you've always got your old trainers to go back to if you need a break from the barefoot.

    Just see how it feels and ease off if needed. After a while, cushioned trainers just feel wierd!

  • Thanks Matt, was thinking between brooks minamilst or something full on from vivobare foot. Not sure I have the guts to wear the finger shoes out in public. Are there any you would recommend or discourage me from looking at? 

  • Well, I've only ever had one pair (Merrell Trail Glove) so I can't compare with any others. I've found them good though and the soles, despite being thin are very durable so I should get quite a few miles out of them. Despite the name though, I don't think they're very good off road. (I have a pair of New Balance 101's for that)

    Same as with any shoe I suppose - you've got to try them on and see how they feel for you.

    Same as you, I wasn't brave enough for the five fingers and, I don't like the idea of running without socks - would result in a pair of pretty stinky shoes very quickly!

  • By the way, I should add that you may need to alternate between using your minimal shoes and your cushioned ones, depending on how much of a heel striker you are. I was lucky in that I think I was fairly mid foot anyway so I pretty much went 100% with the minimal shoes fairly quickly and have had no issues (the relatively low mileage allowing me to do that) but the recommendation (from Merrell themselves I think) is that you spend a while switching between your new barefoots and your old cushioned shoes until you're fully comfortable with barefoot.

  • Thanks again Matt, I will spend some time trying on some different shoes and see how I go. Like you say shoes are very specific to you and I have wide feet which has always stopped me buying Merrel trainers (all be it just the casual ones).

    Well after setting my recovery back at the beginning trying to run through the pain and making it 10 times worse I will definitely take it easy and alternate if I am finding it too hard the calves and feet. 


  • If you take your shoes off and run, you will run midfoot. You are probably only heelstriking in the shoes that you have now because either (a) you've learnt the habit or (b) the heel is so big it gets in the way of your midfoot touching the ground first. (b) is easy to solve with a new pair of shoes, (a) requires some work from you as well!

    I'm currently running in Newtons, and really loving them. Newton developed the natural running movement here, and their full range are specifically designed for midfoot running (and don't have toes that make you look like a hobbit!). They have a specific transition shoe, the Issac, that might be worth you looking at. It also has some cushioning in the heel in case you revert when you get tired. Whether you use them or not, on youtube they have a set of videos called Running Form Friday, that give lots of advice and drills for people who are looking to transition from heel-striking to natural running. They post a weekly video on their facebook page as well.

  • Thanks DIS, I will check out the videos, sounds like it would be really useful for me as finding useful videos which are trying to sell you something are hard to find.

    I like the idea of a transition shoe so will look at these too.

    thanks again

  • I vote for Newtons too... have two pairs now and love them. Bought a pair for my son too!

  • Im currently doing this. There is plenty to think about...

  • I have the merrell trail gloves and find them fine for on and off road, they cope with most trails unless severely muddy or slippery.
    I wear them without socks but you can wear them with thin ones. I just wash them every couple of weeks, they dont seem too bad!

  • I switched a little over a year ago and went for inov8 shoes, which offer a transition in heel/toe drop shoes that work down from 9mm to 0mm. I also went to see a coach, who teaches Chi running - essentially a focus on running form that results in midfoot/forefoot landing.

    I am currently running in Skechers GoRun shoes, really light weight, very soft uppers and a softer sole than the inov8's, they also have something that helps midfoot landing and were quite cheap (in running shoe terms). I think the Skechers are around 6mm heel/toe drop.

  • If your a fan of asics then try the 'Tarther', it's a modest flat, while you can move to the 'Piranha' if you want to go to extremes. I have both and run in the Tarther for almost all training and as default for any length of race, the Prianha is really for race or speedwork (20miles max, but that was a mistake, 10k is more sensible). The Tarther also has quite a bit more mileage before replacement is required.

  • Thanks everyone, I have a lot of info to digest now. I guess the best thing to do is go try on some different shoes and start to make the slow transition. 


  • Virfish, with wide feet you may like the VivoBarefoot Neo shoes - I do!

    And you don't want to just run nearly on tip toe. You'll want a shorter stride, landing underneath your body not with your foot out in front, higher cadence (think 180 strides per minute, that's 90 with each foot). Land on your midfoot but let your heel touch down afterwards.

    Read the stuff that's on the websites. Maybe go to one of the free Tuesday evening sessions offered by VivoBarefoot.

    Good luck!

  • I have just bought some Newtons too. I was fed up with getting knackered knees from heelstriking. I have tried COUNTLESS trainers! Only thing i could run in without getting injured quickly, was the Nike Lunaracer. These are a racing flat, and have a 4mm drop which helps to stop you smashing the ground with your heel!!

    I bought Newton Distance racers as I tried a pair of Motion shoes a few years back and couldn't get on with the feel of them. These new ones, are ace though!

    My advice would be to try a set of the flattest shoes you can find (except Dunlop Greenflash! image). The Lunaracers really helped me sort my running out! No more shin splints, no more ITB nonsense! Make the transition to midfoot and enjoy it!

    Bear in mind, DONT run on your toes! It will hurt your calves like hell! I tried forefoot running in a pair of New Balance 1064's (14mm drop!) which made my have to lift my heel so much that i couldn't walk for a couple of days without looking like i'd soiled myself! Bin the headphones and listen to your feet for a while.

    Look on the Newton website too, there are LOTS of good tips and advice to look at.

  • I am pretty sure I am gonna go for the vivobarefoot neo and build up from nothing very slowly. When I am going to start running for any real time I think I will prob need something with a slightly thicker sole but will see how I feel when I have made the changes to my gait.  I think the main thing I have found out from all your feedback and watching many many lectures and instructional videos is that it the gait and cadence which will bring the benefits and a forefoot and midfoot strike will be the natural response to the changes I make.

    Thanks again everyone its been a huge help

  • Do any of you guys run actual barefoot with no trainers I have new balance minimus but seem to get calf problems when I run in them. I wouldn't mind trying to run with no shoes.
  • nope, are you new to minimalist shoes? if so you might just be doing to much too soon


  • Yeah I'm new. Disheartening, maybe I should slow down with them.
  • I bought the vivobarefoot in the end and have run in them twice firstly just for 5 minutes and calves felt fine. 2 days later I ran for 15 mins which felt fine  at the time but boy do my calves smart now so gonna stick to what I have seen most barefoot running sites which is no more than 1 mile (less is the preference) and then only add a max of 10% per run with at least 1 day between runs. 

    I have to be patience which I don't do well which is why I get injured a lot and stay injured. 


  • I see. I've been running in normal shoes about 7 miles so, what should I aim for in minimal. What is the actual difference with barefoot shoes and normal. I just heard they were better for form.
  • I've got the vivobarefoot trails, as nearly all my running is off road. I have occasionally run barefoot, but unless it's on grass, or nice soft woodland trails it can be a tad painful!

    I quite like the vivo's and the grip, whilst not exactly a walsh PB, isn't bad. I ran in the heavy rain today, did ok going downhill on a bit of mud and wet grass.

    It definitely does feel different though, almost as if you're running in moccasins.

  • @MW - Yeah they do feel pretty strange, even walking in them feels strange. Like converse but weirder.

    @JL - Well from what i have read it says build up from 1/2 to 1 mile 10% when wearing the minimal/barefoot shoe. I think you can then run in your normal shoes after that but I am not sure about that part as would have thought it was you change in form that puts the strain on your calves?

    Maybe someone can clear this up?

  • Ive just got some vivo's.  Did a couple of 1 mile runs in them, fine, then a 2 miler and I had the serious calf stiffness.  Still did a 7 miler then a 25 miler on the subsequent 2 days in my "normal" trail shoes with no ill effect.  The calf stiffness shouldn't stop you rinning,  especially if youre running in the shoes that youre more used to.

  • ive found that foot strike depends on stride length, for example we walk heel first, but sprint on our toes. As ive got slower (and heavier) I noticed my stride length shorten, thus causing pronation flipper footing and a wandering left leg that sometimes seemed to do what it liked, but adopting a sightly longer stride has encouraged mid-strike which has reduced the pronation and that juddering heel first feeling. To adopt on the toes well, Id say you need to be running quicker than 6min miles on average, and start spening times on kerbstones stretching and strengthening those calves

  • For now, I'd just use the minimal shoes for the odd shorter run and the cushioned ones for longer runs. Once you feel comfortable with that, start to increase the mileage in the minimal shoes gradually, Eventually, you should feel comfortable doing all your running in them.

    If you continue with really bad pain whenever you wear the minimal shoes, it might be worth getting your gait analysed as their might be something not quite right there.

    Ideally, once your running style has changed as a result of wearing barefoot, you would continue with that even in a cushioned trainer. There's nothing to stop you running with good form in a cushioned shoe, but the thinner soles on a minimal one almost force you to do it by making it uncomfortable to heel strike. Running in a cushioned shoe shouldn't automatically make you revert to your old way of running, but if you went back to them permanently, you might start to slip back into old ways.

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