5 Easy Running Drills to Help You Stop Striking on Your Heels
In this article I am going to show you 5 easy running drills to help you stop striking on your heels and move toward more of a a mid foot or fore foot strike. We’ve all learned over the past couple of decades that striking on your heels can be rough on the ankle, knee, and hip joints. When you strike the ground leading with your heel, it’s as if you are putting on the brakes in the middle of your stride. I know, not very efficient!
So how do you break the bad habit of such inefficiency? The answer is in training your body a little at a time to get up on your toes and to lean forward. These two tweaks can go a long way in helping you run with a little more shock absorption and less stress on your joints. The best place for your foot to meet with the ground is directly under your hips, not out in front of you. When I do a run gait analysis for my athletes, I look to see if their legs are making that perfect “figure 4” as the bent knee meets the straight knee just after the foot strike.
Leaning forward about 5 degrees at the ankles creates the need for a quick turnover with the striking foot not spending too much time on the ground. This also means less pounding and forceful impact, less injury, and less time with the athletic trainer.
I put together a few of my favorite ways to train the legs to strike more on the mid foot or fore foot. These are super simple and easy to do. They are also easy not to do, so you must make a daily effort to spend 10 minutes before you run on these simple yet effective drills.
1. Standing jumps in place. This drill gets you landing on your toes first then heels. Jump straight up and down for 30 seconds and notice how you can’t help land on your toes first! You want you brain to think this way when you run.
2. Running backwards. If there is any drill that will make you strike on your toes first it is running backwards. Try a 200 yard effort backwards, 200 yard forwards, then 400 yard the same way. Incorporate this drill within your track workouts often!
3. High skip. Be sure to use runner’s arms to get the full range of motion of the skip. This is an exaggerated movement but it forces you to strike the ground toes first.
3. Butt kicks. You want to try and kick yourself in the butt literally in this drill. I find this drill useful for that figure 4 stance as well as striking the ground on the forefoot.
4. High knees. This is another great drill for getting your legs used to striking the ground on the toes or forefoot. I place my hands at hip level and with each step the goal is to get the knees to hit the palms.
I only know of a few runners who actually land on their toes with each foot strike- I would say that the rest are a split between mid foot and heel strikers (this is just my personal opinion.) The idea with these drills is to reinforce the fore foot strike or mid foot strike to avoid putting on the brakes with a heel strike. Try a few of these drills at your next track workout. Let me know how it goes. If you like what you see here and you are in search of a Triathlon Coach, shoot me an email HERE and we can have a free 15 min call about your goals!