The “Foot Strike” Debate: Does it Matter?


ELITE_Newsletter_SLYou may be the fastest runner but quickly slowed down or not even make it to the starting line if you land an injury. Does foot strike play a role in injury prevention? If you follow any running blogs or magazines, you have seen a litany of articles on rearfoot (heel) striking versus midfoot or forefoot striking. Some articles have been written that attribute many running injuries to heel striking while other articles have bee entitled “Is Heel Striking Really Bad?” The stark contrast in ideas can be confusing, but hopefully my explanation can bring some clarity.

The known benefit of midfoot and forefoot striking is that you are less likely to over stride. Researchers have consistently agreed that over striding increases your risk for injury. Over striding= foot strike or initial contact in front of the body beyond your center of    gravity. On the contrary, many people who over stride are heel strikers. Hence, the negative vibes towards heel striking.

Does that mean everyone should be a midfoot or forefoot striker? No! Heel striking is not necessarily bad as long as you are not over striding, and converting your foot strike when it is not right for you to do so can increase your risk for injury. A few important factors that should be considered before altering your foot strike are your injury history, years of running experience with your current foot strike, strength and flexibility. These factors are all unique to YOU so there is NOT a one size fits all for running gait. Adjusting your cadence is a safer and more effective way to decrease your risk for running injuries than adopting a new foot strike.

Cadence= # of steps per minute. The optimal cadence is said to be at least 180 steps/minute. If you are stepping at a higher rate, you will limit over striding. You can also maintain your heel strike or naturally adjust to a midfoot or forefoot strike. Whenever you make any adjustments to your running gait, do it in increments of 5-10% allowing your body time to adapt to the new pattern.




Performance Training for Dancers Beyond Just Dancing

Traditionally, the only type of exercise a dancer was “allowed” to do was dance. Dancers and instructors would say things like “stay away from strength training or lifting weights, it will make you too bulky for dance” or “dancers should not run (or do some other specific activity or sport), because it uses different muscles and will ruin your dance technique.” Thankfully, these myths have been debunked and the dance community is slowly but surely recognizing the benefits of training and doing activities outside of traditional dance class. Many sports and other activities use cross-training and strengthening exercises to supplement their training. So, why should dance be any different? Read more

Tart Cherry Juice: Nature’s Recovery Food

Recovery tip #1 is to get adequate fluid, carbohydrates, and protein following exercise. If you participate in races frequently or otherwise need a speedy recovery, tart cherries are a great addition to your recovery regimen. Loaded with anthocyanins and antioxidants, tart cherries might just help you get back to 100% a bit more rapidly.

Intense exercise unleashes a cascade of events in muscle tissue causing cell damage, oxidative stress, and inflammation. These events result in impaired muscle function, such as reduced strength, and may contribute to soreness in the days after intense exercise. This damage serves as the stimulus for muscle to rebuild itself a bit stronger.

But when athletes drink tart cherry juice, there are fewer signs of muscle damage, fewer cell damaging ‘free radicals,’ and less inflammation in the following days (in a test tube, tart cherry was as effective as ibuprofen). Coupled with reductions in soreness and pain, strength tends to return a bit more rapidly.

Shoot for 8oz twice a day for 4-7 days pre-race, race day, and 2 days post-race. Although drinking it every day sounds good, be careful: physiological adaptations from training making you stronger and/or faster are likely dependent on some of these pathways. Only use when quick recovery is needed, such as if you’re racing on consecutive weekends or didn’t taper for your race appropriately (as is all too common).

Tart cherry juice is readily available at local grocery stores for roughly the same cost per serving as orange juice!