Good running form requires good technique from the feet all the way up to the head and neck. I am a big fan of forefoot running. I don’t run barefoot but I love my mizuno flats. I always land on the ball of my foot and my heel never touches the ground.
But good running form doesn’t stop there. While I find that more and more people are tapping into the current popularity for barefoot and minimal running I also find that while the way the feet strike the ground might change, other patterns as you make your way up the body don’t necessarily follow along.
Most people walk, run, and stand with a very similar pattern. Our muscles are developed in certain directions and with tone based on the alignment or misalignment of the bones. It is my contention that most everyone stands the same way—turned out feet and inner thighs, tucked under pelvis, short and tight muscles in the lower back due to habitually leaning backwards when you think you are standing up straight, and the list goes on for a while. None of these attributes leads to good running form.
When people switch to forefoot running a lot of good things happen. We move more towards the inner, weight bearing, portion of the foot, our knee is more likely to align and track over the ankle, our inner thighs might even begin to work. But I don’t think these things happen just because you change your feet. You have to think about what changing your feet does to the rest of your body and incorporate the changes accordingly.
The main thing I will address here is the chin and the rib cage. I am always trying to get clients to soften the front of the body especially the bottom of the ribcage and the jaw. The base of these two bony landmarks should be parallel with each other and the floor. When that happens (and we want to throw in a level pelvis as well) the machine starts to function at peak capacity.
Instead many people are running with the front the chest held too high and the chin lifting too much as well. Forefoot running should help in that in it will definitely get you moving towards the midline that we need to find but again, changing the feet alone will not get you there.
Good running form requires good technique from the feet all the way up the body.