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Foot Strike Trends at the 2017 Boston Marathon

The prevalence of research and news relating to foot strike has surged over the past 10 years. Within this surge, there has been a movement in the industry to push rear foot runners to become mid foot or fore foot runners. While the benefits of moving from heel to mid or toe are still highly debated, the profound effects on the American Marathoner cannot be denied.

If Boston is the benchmark of American Marathon running, then it’s an ideal place to look for the latest running trends. After digging into the data of runners crossing the Boston 2017 finish line with a MilestonePod, an interesting foot strike trend has come to life: runners are changing their habits and form.

Trend #1: Neutral Shoes

Exactly 80% of MilestonePod users ran Boston in neutral shoes and only 20% ran in the more structured support shoes. Runners are choosing less supportive shoes, the type often associated with mid or toe striking.

Trend #2: Foot strike pattern

The changes in strike pattern is even greater.  An article studying runners in 2009 stated that only 5% of runners were running on their forefoot during a half or full marathon1.  Last week in Boston, the MilestonePod tracked a staggering increase:  35% of runners landed on their forefoot more than half the time. 

Clearly, the trend shows runners moving forward on the foot. However, there is much more to the strike story, including stride length and where a runner actually loads their weight. Read more in one of my most popular article to date: “Heel Touch vs. Heel Load.”

Some public opinion considers forefoot running being the better form, but the “most correct” run form is still under review2-4.  Case in point: by digging even deeper into the Boston data, we see that those running with a forefoot strike pattern landed with a higher rate of impact 5% more than heel strikers, though the forefoot strikers were running faster and averaging 11 more steps per minute. 

Whether you want to make a change, or want to maintain your natural running form, the MilestonePod will be there to help you Go Beyond Pace!

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1Larson P et al. 2011. Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(15), 1665–1673.

2Hamill J & Gruber AH. 2017. Is changing footstrike pattern beneficial to runners? Journal of Sport and Health Science

3Esculier JF, et al. 2017. Footwear characteristics are related to running mechanics in runners with patellofemoral pain. Gait & Posture, 54, 144–147.

4Rice HM et al. 2016. Footwear matters: Influence of footwear and foot strike on load rates during running. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48(12), 2462-2468.

Author: Steve Suydam

Steve is a PhD and Director of Research at Milestone Sports. He can be reached at steve@milestonepod.com.