Have you tried using a forefoot strike while walking? Most of us don't pay any attention as to how our foot lands when we walk. However, if we develop a forefoot walking style, it can have a significant and positive effect on how we run and walk.
Most people tend to heel strike and overstride (stepping too far ahead) while walking. This style of walking causes much stress on our bodies as we are continuously jarring our body with each step.
Take time to notice how others walk. If they are overstriding and landing on their heels, you can see the entire bottom of their shoe as they walk towards you (as in the picture above). All their weight will rest on their back leg, making a forward movement more difficult. With a forefoot strike, their weight will be over each foot as they gracefully touch the ground rather than jam on the brakes with an abrupt stop each time.
Walking with a forefoot strike can be very fluid and graceful if done properly, but there are many other benefits to walking this way.
I try to go barefoot as much as possible (especially when I am at home) to build strength in my feet. I ditched my house slippers a number of years ago as I like my feet to have complete freedom of movement. I have found that cozy warm socks do the trick when it is too cold for bare feet. However, sometimes my heels feel sore when I am on my feet a lot so I began to explore how my foot lands when I walk.
As it turns out, there is a technique called "fox walking" that is used to promote a forefoot strike while walking, especially when barefoot. I have been practicing this a lot lately; not just around the house, but also when I am outdoors walking in minimalist shoes. It feels really great now that I have mastered the technique. It makes me feel taller and I am walking faster without any extra effort. I have also become more aware of how my foot lands when I am running.
This style of walking will feel a bit unnatural at first, but as you get the knack of it, you will love it! Try it at home first in your bare feet.
1) Stand with both feet slightly apart. Raise one leg slightly and then the other keeping your feet and ankles relaxed. Do this a few times and you will notice that the foot naturally lands on the forefoot (ball) when it is relaxed.
2) As you step forward, continue to let the ball of the foot come down first, keeping your heel slightly raised. As the forefoot comes down, there will be a slight roll inward (the outside by the little toe touches first and then the inside by the big toe). Keeping your heel slightly raised as you land will help you get the feel for this movement.
3) Let your heel come down and touch gently before the foot springs off again. You will be making quick, short steps as each foot lands under your center of gravity (not out in front of the body). You should feel an immediate straightening in your posture as your chest comes forward and your shoulders move back.
4) Your arms should be swinging slightly in opposition to the forward leg. As your left leg moves forward, your right arm swings forward slightly. It naturally follows then that as your right leg moves forward, your left arm swings forward slightly.
Try not to bounce. The movement will feel springy, but it should be smooth and graceful—not bouncy.
And don't worry too much about the inward roll of the foot. If you find that complicates the movement too much, just leave it for now and try to add it in later. You will still get a good forefoot landing without it.
Flat shoes (minimalist shoes) are best for practicing this as your foot has more freedom of movement. I found a great walking shoe for the summer that I absolutely love. It has air vents in the sole, which keep my feet from sweating and they are very comfortable without socks. They have zero heel drop so they are also perfect for practicing fox walking. It is actually a boating shoe, but also great for walking.
So what about you? What is your opinion on a forefoot strike while walking? Will you give it a try? Have you noticed just how many people overstride when they walk? We would love to hear from you. Please share your opinion in the comments section below.
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