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this was borne out from a few threads i've been contributing to, and thought it deserved a thread of its own
firstly, what is heel striking?
heel striking is when your heel is the first part of your foot that hits the floor on taking a step.
why i believe heel striking is the worst thing possible for the knees.....
when i heel struck, my foot would contact the floor at least 18" in front of my body. this meant that my leg was virtually straight. this would mean that the angle of my leg was about 15-20 deg from vertical. my foot would be about 90 deg to the leg. because the leg was quite straight, the knee was close to being locked out. when my heel hit the floor the force was instantly transmitted up the shin, through the knee and into the hip. i know. i felt it! as the body rotates over the nearly locked out leg, it is propelled upwards, putting yet more stress on the ankle, knee and hip joints. all these forces do not make for comfort if you suffer from joint problems.
why heel striking acts as a brake......
simple one this. imagine you are walking along and trip over. you've got horizontal and vertical motion to arrest, so where do you put your hands? they obviously go out, but they go out in front of you. they go in front so that you slow your forward motion. if you just put them perpendicular to the floor, you'd stop the vertical motion, but you'd still have forward motion and face plant. if you put them behind you, you'd face plant faster as the forces would accelerate the horizontal motion. every step you take, your feet are doing exactly the same thing. they are stopping the vertical motion and slowing the forward motion.