More Than 90% of Marathoners Heel Strike
Thursday, 4 October 2012
More than 90% of marathoners heel strike
By Scott Douglas
Of almost 2000 runners observed at the 2011 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, 93.7 per cent were heel strikers, with faster runners less likely to be so, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.
Researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin set up shop at 8K mark of the race. Of the 1991 runners whose foot-strike pattern the researchers were able to characterise, 93.7 per cent were heel strikers. The researchers found no difference in whether runners from one gender were more likely to heel strike than the other. They did find, however, that heel striking was less common closer to the front of the pack.
These findings are consistent with what college biology professor Peter Larson, co-author of Tread Lightly, found when he videotaped runners at the 2009 Manchester City Marathon. At that race, Larson classified 88.9 per cent of the runners as heel strikers at the 10K mark.
What was most interesting about Larson's study was that he also recorded foot strike at the 30K mark, and compared how runners were running early in the race with how the same runners were landing later in the race. Larson found that, by the 30K mark, 96 per cent of runners were heel striking. That is, some of those who had been midfoot or forefoot striking earlier in the race had switched to heel striking by 30 kilometres, presumably as they tired, and perhaps started to slow.
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