Running Mechanics: An Illustration

Foot Placement

Heel to toe/Mid-Foot/Forefoot:

Heel to toe striking usually indicates an over stride. This means that you are landing in front of your hips, as opposed to under them, which creates a hard impact on your shins and knees which can lead to shin splints and patella pain. It look like this:

heel to toe.jpg

Here’s a tip,the less time you spend on the ground the better. Therefore, it’s beneficial to increase your cadence. Your cadence is how many strides you take per minute. So even if you don’t make a huge change in your foot placement, if you take more strides per minute, you will start to land under your hips.

Now if you are increasing your cadence, you will tend to have a midget mid-foot strike. Which looks like this:


Landing under the hips









A mid-foot strike is ideal if you want to avoid injury and increase your speed. A forefoot strike is rare, but is generally used for propulsion. It looks like this:

A Forefoot strike is usually found in sprints. So use this form on your speed work!

My goal with every client is to have him or her run correctly before they begin to develop speed. You are not going to be a better runner by adding more miles. How you become a better runner is by improving your technique and form to ultimately develop a sound running economy.

Now let’s look at how your posture should be to promote quick, efficient running.


What is also going to help you improve your running economy is adding in a pull-back. Follow all the way through with your stride. So, this means following all the way through with your stride. According to Runner’s World: “In pawback, after your thigh is driven forward and the shin swings out, you bring the leg back and down so that you touchdown on your midfoot and closer to the vertical projection of the body’s center of gravity on touchdown.” I always tell people, think about pulling the ground with your foot. The ground isn’t just where you land. It’s how you propel yourself forward.

foot strike.png

How to get to work on improving your running economy through foot placement:

Step 1: Time yourself on the treadmill for 60 seconds and count how many stride you take per minute. The ideal cadence for efficient running should be around 170; for elite runners, 180.

Step 2: Video tape yourself running. This is the best way to know how you run. Have someone video tape you, or set up your phone behind the treadmill. Analyze this, and adjust accordingly.

Step 3: Try this workout: 21 minutes (7 rounds) —> 2 minutes running your way/1 minute running with a mid-foot strike, under the hips.