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Rearfoot Striking Runners Are More Economical Than Midfoot Strikers


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 3 - p 580–585
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000139
Applied Sciences

Purpose This study aimed to analyze the influence of foot strike pattern on running economy and biomechanical characteristics in subelite runners with a similar performance level.

Methods Twenty subelite long-distance runners participated and were divided into two groups according to their foot strike pattern: rearfoot (RF, n = 10) and midfoot (MF, n = 10) strikers. Anthropometric characteristics were measured (height, body mass, body mass index, skinfolds, circumferences, and lengths); physiological (V˙O2max, anaerobic threshold, and running economy) and biomechanical characteristics (contact and flight times, step rate, and step length) were registered during both incremental and submaximal tests on a treadmill.

Results There were no significant intergroup differences in anthropometrics, V˙O2max, or anaerobic threshold measures. RF strikers were 5.4%, 9.3%, and 5.0% more economical than MF at submaximal speeds (11, 13, and 15 km·h−1 respectively, although the difference was not significant at 15 km·h−1, P = 0.07). Step rate and step length were not different between groups, but RF showed longer contact time (P < 0.01) and shorter flight time (P < 0.01) than MF at all running speeds.

Conclusions The present study showed that habitually rearfoot striking runners are more economical than midfoot strikers. Foot strike pattern affected both contact and flight times, which may explain the differences in running economy.

Department of Physical Education and Sports, Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), University of León, León, SPAIN

Address for correspondence: Ana Ogueta-Alday, Department of Physical Education and Sports, University of León, 24071 León, Spain; E-mail:

Submitted for publication January 2013.

Accepted for publication August 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine