Running Mechanics | What matters By Mark Blomeley

As runners there is so much emphasis placed on where we are landing on our foot. The trend over the past decade is to place a lot of emphasis on forefoot landing or “running on your toes”. Today I’m going to surprise you and say it doesn’t matter…

The foot is just one piece of the running technique puzzle. There are other things to consider than just foot landing mechanics.

The other three things that I always consider are: body position, foot strike in relation to centre of mass and shin angle.

Now that all sounds very technical so let me break this down for you.


1.  Body position

We want to be running in a slight forward lean. As we lean forward we force our body’s centre of mass to be slightly in front of the lower body and therefore our centre of mass is always pushing us forward. This gives us fantastic running efficiency.

2. Foot Strike in Relation to Centre of Mass

For optimal running efficiency we want our foot to strike underneath our centre of mass. If our foot strike is in front of our centre of mass then we have to decelerate before we accelerate. In other words as the foot strikes further away from our centre of mass the more we have to brake, the more breaking forces need to be absorbed by our body and the harder we have to work to maintain our pace.

Therefore we can actually land anywhere on our foot as long as it’s under our centre of mass. It just so happens that most people tend to midfoot land when these mechanics are corrected.

Ben St Lawrence
Australian 10,000m record holder, Ben St Lawrence

3. Shin Angle

The shin angle is really a consequence of the first two. To make this simple the shin and foot should be at an acute angle when the foot lands on the ground. Again this occurs when the foot lands under the centre of mass. When you land too far out from the centre of mass the foot & shin will either be at 90 degrees or in extreme cases an obtuse angle (greater than 90 degrees).

By trying to simplify running technique into foot landing position it could actually work against you. For example if you’re a forefoot striker but landing a long way out from your centre of mass you’re putting high braking forces through the calves and forefoot. This very commonly leads to injury of the calves, soleus, achilles or foot fractures.

Have someone film your running and assess each of these areas of your running. This will help you to identify what you need to do to achieve optimum running technique.