Transition from heel strike to mid foot

Like most runners, I’m a natural heel striker, but decided to try a little experiment at the weekend. I made the effort to run a couple of km on the treadmill by striking mid foot. Using a bit of concentration it didn’t take long to find a nice rhythm, and I was going pretty comfortably at about 5min/km pace at about 175 cadence. It actually felt quite nice. I did just over 2k but decided not to push my luck as I know it can add extra strain on the calves. Anyway, the next morning my calves were really sore, and I mean really sore! Nothing pulled, just felt like I’d done a long hard race. My question is this - has anyone else successfully managed to transition to mid foot running, and if so, how long did it take before the agony went away?


  • I did change from heel to mid foot strike.  My main reason was knee problems caused by heel striking. Changed shoes from support shoe to a neutral lower heel drop (not zero drop) helped. Your calves will feel tight for a while as they are taking more strain. Try doing heel drops off a step to strengthen and lengthen calf muscles.

  • ^^^ this. Took ages to feel 100% natural and for the calves to adjust, maybe a year or so? But now if I heel strike it feels heavy and slow, so no going back for me. 5 or 6 years on, running is much easier and I just don't get the same niggles I used to get. I understand that lots of people strain their calves / Achilles during this transition, so just take it easy - you're asking different muscles to take the load of running and they're not used it. Don't over-do it, in a way you're starting from scratch again.

  • So is it best just to work in a few hundred metres on each run and progressively increase the amount. I seem to be able to switch fairly easily.
  • JGavJGav ✭✭✭
    I've made the switch.  Do it really carefully and really slowly otherwise you will get injured.   I moved to lower drop trainers and ended up with calf strains.  Long term it has worked for me and I'm a much more efficient runner now but it's been an 18 month progress requiring my legs to get a lot stronger and for my cadence to come up.

    The other thing that is talked about now is that it doesn't really matter which part of your foot you land on, just where it is in relation to your body i.e. feet underneath body, underneath head.
  • Agree with JGav. Also, I wouldn't try to swap in and out of this style. If you're looking to change your running style then do it, but don't mix and match. Make the change and stick with it, it's the only way it will become completely natural.
  • The lower heel offset of 4 to 8 mm is optimal for mid foot running. Most runners try to jump too quickly from high drop to lower drop to force mid foot strike. This may lead to injuries and is not advisable for older runners that are used to running with higher 10 to 12mm offset. Gradually reduce offset of shoes and do not rush things.
  • jtfacejtface ✭✭
    I actually tried minimal shoes and transitioning to a forefoot from what I thought was a 'nasty' heel strike. It caused ME all kinds of problems (disclaimer: lots of people have been successful and it has been great for them!) that I never had when I just got out of the door and ran! I ended up with a stress fracture and some nasty calf/achilles pains!

    I have since reverted to running in a relaxed manner focusing on running tall. I have noticed that I have a VERY slight heel strike when running slower than 10 min/mile pace and a mid-foot strike when running anything faster. I don't know if this is because of the work I did trying to change or what... All I would say is to run relaxed.
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