Forefoot runners?

Hi all, some of you might be familiar with Tim Noakes "Lore of Running" book. Well, the author has done a study of forefoot running ("Pose Method" in particular") and the results have been published at

Makes for some interesting reading, especially if you have had any knee problems and/or have thought about changing your running style.


  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    Interesting - nice to see someone doing some research on this.

    Barefoot running is a bit different to running in shoes though - he recognises it as a possible limitation but I'd say it more or less invalidates the findings as these people were not habituated barefoot runners.
  • I see your point, do you not think it still has some validity in a comparative sense though? With all the variation in cushioning/support/medial posts/etc in normal shoes it would be almost impossible to compare otherwise.

    On a related point, it's interesting to see that even Nike are attempting to come out with a shoe that mimics a barefoot feel & of course many of us on the forum are always looking out for minimalist shoes to get closer to barefoot running.
  • popsiderpopsider ✭✭✭
    It's definitely the way forward I think. There was a wave of us started running in flats about 18 months ago on the forum which was motivated by discussions about Pirie, then a second wave when the Pose threads started. I backed off a bit in that I mix using flats like the RC240 and Fila racers and lightweight trainers like Brooks Burn - I think I might stick with the Filas now though as they seem to fit me well.

    I know whenever anyone gets injured wearing flats (ie BR) a lot of people blame the shoes - but how many people get injured wearing support shoes ? Apart from anything else running just feels better in lighter, flatter more flexible shoes - once you've tried it it is impossible to go back - support shoes feel like you are running in boots don't you think?
  • I know what you mean - I have a pair of old Air Structure Triax that I keep at work for the gym & went for a run in them the other day. They felt very bizarre - like running on pillows; and definitely slower.
  • Chaos, I just tried reading that article and it made absolutely no sense to me! How can heel-toe running be the same speed as midfoot running and pose running, if in the next sentence they claim that midfoot running is a greater speed than pose running, for example?! If pose running is less knee-eccentric and more ankle-eccentric, does that imply that if knee injuries could be reduced, conversely ankle injuries could be increased? (I'm not picking holes here, I'm genuinely interested as to what point is being made, and I couldn't get through all the technical stuff).

    I find this debate particularly interesting because I am most definitely a heel striker, and a neutral runner. I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 11; by the age of 15 I had real problems just walking, and they operated on my knees. After that, I spent months in physio being taught how to walk, and then taught how to run, because my knees had twisted so much that after the op I didn't know how to walk/run naturally. So unlike most people, I am not a natural runner at all (in fact, for the past ten years the rheumatologist has told me to avoid running at all, because of the repetitive impact), and was actually taught to heel strike.

    Also, I was always told to wear cushioned shoes - I used to have to put cushioned inserts into all my shoes, so obviously I've gone for very cushioned running shoes.

    However, given that I was told running was bad for me, and when I first started running 18 months ago it was in absolute desperation because I couldn't walk for 15 mins without support/stopping, but I have had virtually no knee or hip problems since running conistently, I am very willing to contradict the "specialist"'s advice if it makes sense to me to do so. I cannot at present see how flats would be better for me than cushioned shoes...?
  • Good to see the subject getting attention, though not a huge amount to draw from that article I think (though I must admit I skimmed through it a bit).

    I agree that racing flats are the most comfortable shoes for training. Forefoot running clearly doesn't remove all possibility of injury, but it does seem to reduce the risks greatly.

  • Snail, it's definitely the case that you need to allow a significant time for your achilles and calf to strengthen before you increase mileage with Pose - all due to the increased eccentric loading. I'm not sure that there's an increased risk of your ankle rolling over laterally however; i now find that rough terrain is actually easier to negotiate but of course this might be partially because my ankles have built up more strength due to Pose. Is that a vague and cagey enough answer for you?!!

    [to be honest i think my running is probably a mixture of what Noakes describes as midfoot AND pose]
  • on the subject of forefoot running putting greater stress on ankle, i can't figure out why my ankle has suddenly STOPPED hurting since i switched to forefoot strike

    i sense that the foot's natural springiness is being used - as well as the knee. I sense my arch has a chance to work effectively now (even though i'm very flat footed) -

    In POSE, it maybe that the relative pressure is greater on the ankle than the knee - i think everyone agrees that
    but perhaps the *absolute* forces are much less on both ankle and knee
    ie much lower forces involved in forefoot/POSE running

    this would accord with how it *feels* to me ie quite "floaty" compared to my old style of running

  • infact he says this i see

    " heel-toe running was characterized by greater magnitudes and loading rates of the vertical impact force"
  • snail - your situation is unusual and sounds like you have been immensely brave from an early age

    i can understand your not wanting to change something that has been learned and found to be effective for you

    the trouble is that the medics often don't seem to know or care about alternative approaches to problems
    whereas competitive sports will take up an idea early on - anything to get an edge - in the case of POSE being taken up by elite athletes

    on the other hand - it will only be taught as standard practice by medics 20 or more years later
    understandably i think, where there is an existing injury or problem, they will stick with tried and tested methods until proven otherwise

    but i don't think the lack of medics explcitly supporting these ideas, means that they are wrong

    from what i have read, there is alot they do NOT know about how the muscles and joints work in running, and they can't measure accurately the forces without excessively in trusive and painful insertions of guages right inside peoples legs!

    personally i am experimenting with this style as a solution to a an ankle ligament injury that won't seem to heel

    consultant is pointing me down conventional route of orthotics etc

    i suppose i have the luxury of experimenting because my injury is not as long term nor anywhere near as complex as yours
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