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The foot strike debate continues

The foot strike debate continues.

The foot strike debate continues.

Spanish researchers have stoked the unending debate of rearfoot and midfoot strikers.

As each side claims to have the solution to the most economical stride, the University of Leon in Spain has narrowed down their interest to the sub-elite category of half-marathon runners. Their results were similar to all the other research: it depends.

Twenty participants took part in the new study — ten rearfoot strikers and ten midfoot or forefoot strikers. There were no notable physiological differences in the two groups, although the sample size is a touch on the small side. All the runners were fast, but none were world-beaters. The heel-strikers had an average half-marathon time of 1:10:21 and the forefoot-strikers averaged 1:10:59.

Each group was measured on a treadmill at three speeds: 5:27 per kilometre, 4:37 per kilometre and 4:00 per kilometre.

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The rearfoot strikers were the more economical of the groups at the two slower paces, 9.3 and 5.0 per cent more economical, respectively. But at 4:00 pace the difference became negligible. It seems as the runners got faster the difference between paces shrunk.

Researchers also found that the rearfoot strikers had longer contact with the ground each stride and a shorter flight time between stides.

So, file one more study into the endless footstrike economy debate. The full truth may never be known.