Because the foot is the only part of the human body that makes contact with the ground during running, it is but natural that the foot contact patterns influence the runner’s performance and running injuries. Typically there are three types of foot contact patterns:
- Rear-foot – wherein the heel strikes the ground first followed by the rest of the foot
- Mid-foot – when the initial contact is on the ball of the foot followed by the heel touching the ground; and,
- Fore-foot – when the initial contact is on the ball of the foot without any heel contact.
The Rear-foot pattern accounts for almost 75% of all running patterns, followed by the Mid-foot type 23% and the Forefoot type 2%.
Regardless of whether the running pattern is Rear, Mid or Fore Foot, the outer side of the foot always touches the ground first followed by a gradual transfer of weight towards the ball of the first toe.
At slower speeds, the Rear-foot pattern is preferred, while at faster speeds the Mid-foot pattern is seen. During sprints, the Forefoot pattern is utilised to increase the speed and efficiency.
Another important aspect that is very frequently stressed is the type of shoe that you should choose whilst running. For this aspect, it is necessary to understand your foot type. Basically, there are three different foot patterns related to the “pronation” of your foot. Pronation is the natural inward roll of your foot as the outside of the foot contacts the ground. This roll is about 15% in the normal individual. Pronation is necessary for normal transfer of weight and for a good even push off. The three patterns that are identified are: normal pronation, over pronation and under pronation. A lot of emphasis is laid on the ideal show type for each of the foot patterns. The over pronator foot is most comfortable with a ‘minimalist’ shoe with some extra heel control. The under pronator foot usually requires a ‘maximalist’ show with a slightly more curved last and that are lightweight.
A lot of current literature and research now shows that the pronation type does not correlate well with the injury incidence. There is now increasing trend to use the shoe that you feel most comfortable to use. So, just put on your shoes and make a run out of it.
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