If you're not already walking at home barefoot, DO IT every day. Actually, think about landing on your forefoot while you walk.
CoreGood core strength and stability is the most important aspect in maintaining a forefoot strike running pattern. Due to the inherent forward lean of this running style, the core is always engaged. The onset of fatigue leads to poor form. The chest starts to hutch over (as oppose to forward pelvis over the foot) and hips shift backwards which leads to heel striking.
For clams, side lying leg lifts, fire hydrants and bridges:
stage 1 - perform 3 sets x 12 reps
- hold plank 10 x 10 sec
stage 2 - hold 10 reps for 10 seconds
- hold plank 3 x 30 sec
stage 3 - add band repeat stage 1
- progress to single leg bridges
- add squats and lunges: use push knee back cue
- add plank - add knee bent plank and rotation 10 each side
stage 4 - repeat 2 with band
- continue single leg bridges, squats, lunges and plank (lunges and squat add weight or bend knees more)
*** Perform stage 1 every day. Stages 2-4 perform 3-4 x week.
*** Do not progress stage until the current stage feels easy.
*** You should have glute soreness after each session.
This should take a minimum of 8 weeks!!! Spend about 2 weeks per stage.
Ankle Strength and DrillsTo land on your forefoot you have to have excellent calf strength. Forefoot strike puts extra stress to the calf muscles and Achilles tendon. You are performing an eccentric heel raise with each stride! These drills help with proper form and getting the neurologic input to land on your forefoot.
Calf Raises - With a twist! By turning left and right as you come up, different muscle fibers are being used. In running, the twisting motions occur when your foot lands and when it lifts off the ground. It happens so fast you can't feel it. Start with double leg 2-3 sets of 10, then at stage 3 of core, try single leg 3 sets of 10 reps.
Wall Falls - Forefoot running requires eccentric strength of the calves. Eccentric strength is when the muscle is working while it's stretching. This strength is required during the time the forefoot hits the ground and when the heel lands. 2-3 sets of 10 reps
Falls Into Strides - This takes wall falls to the next step. Fall forward until you can't hold yourself up, then stride for about 20 yards. Keep your back straight and core tight. Please don't fall on your face!
High Knees - This works on front side form. Bring your knee up to your chest without leaning backwards and land on your forefoot. Keep your feet under your body and don't reach forward. This drill is about speed not distance of each step. 10-20 yards
Butt Kicks - This works on back side form. Kick your heel towards your glutes. The tendency is to arch your back because of tightness in the quadriceps and hip flexors. Keep your core tight and back in neutral. Land on your forefoot. Again, this is about quick feet and not distance. 10 - 20 yards
Running ProgramStart slow and forefoot run for a 2-3 minutes then return to your normal form for 5 minutes to allow the new working muscles to rest. Repeat until you reach 30 minutes. Increase the amount of time you forefoot running by 1 minute each week as long on there is no pain. So forefoot run 3-4 minutes then walk 5 minute.
Barefoot walking in the house using a forefoot pattern.
2-3 minutes forefoot running 5 minutes running normal x 3 - 4 for 30 minutes total 2-3 times a week
3-4 minutes forefoot running 5 minute running normal x 3 - 4 for 30 minutes total 2-3 times a week
4-5 minute forefoot running 5 minute running normal x 3 for 30 minutes total 2-3 times a week
5-6 minute forefoot running 4 minute running normal x 3 for 30 minutes total 2-3 times a week
6-7 minute forefoot running 3 minute running normal x 3 for 30 minutes total 2-3 times a week
Repeat until you reach 3 x 10 minutes of running forefoot
15 minutes of forefoot running 3 x week
18 minutes of forefoot running 3 x week
add 3 minutes to each run each week until you reach 30 minutes.
Do not move forward if you have pain. You should be able to comfortably run forefoot for 30 minutes without discomfort before incorporating it into harder runs.
There are a lot of different core and ankle exercises, as well as, running drills. However, I believe these are the fundamentals which build a good base for forefoot running. Remember this takes time to transition!
Look out for a future post on how footwear ( heel drop) can change your strike pattern.
The core exercises are a modified version of Dr. Chris Powers's Course Evaluation and Treatment of the Injured Runner: A Biomechanical Approach
The running program is a modified version from Dr. Irene Davis's running lecture Spaulding National
Running Center - Barefoot running Training.