Does the way your foot hit the ground while walking cause more injuries?

The US Army recently did a study to find out if they could reduce soldier’s injury rates to the foot and ankle.  They looked at foot strike, or what happens when your foot first touches the ground while walking.  People have many different types of foot strikes. 

Types of foot strike include: 

  • Heelstrike:  This occurs when your rear foot is the first thing to touch the ground.  This is the most common strike pattern, accounting for 75-90% of people’s strike pattern.   
  • Midfoot Strike:  The outside edge of your whole foot contacts the ground first. 
  • Forefoot Strike:  The outside edge of the forefoot contacts the ground first. 

It has long been speculated that the way your foot hits the ground when walking and running is related to injury rates.  The Army was interested in the topic, and did their own research involving 1,027 subjects including 232 women.  They will present their findings later this month with a poster entitled:  Footstrike Patterns Do Not Influence Running Related Overuse Injuries In U.S. Army Soldiers.   

The army videotaped all 1,027 soldiers running to evaluate their footstrike pattern.  They found that 83% of men and women were heelstrikers.  The subjects were asked about injuries over the past 12 months, and a specialist divided them into acute injuries (something that was just injured) and overuse injuries (injuries from chronic, repetitive micro-trauma.)   

Overall, 15 – 18% of runners had injuries that were classified as true overuse injuries.  The rate was higher in women where 27% had overuse injuries vs. 14% of men.  The results showed that there weren’t any significant differences in injuries between heel strikers and non-heel strikers.  One interesting point that the researchers found was that runners who were non-heel strikers were a little bit faster than the heel-strikers.  Men were 12 seconds faster while women were 35 seconds faster. 

If you have any questions about your workout routine or would like more information on preventing injuries at the gym, give our office a call to set up an appointment today.   

By:  Clair Bello, III