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My Barefoot Running Footstrike in Pictures

My 6 year-old son and I spent part of the afternoon today running barefoot laps up and down the driveway in front of a camera. I was trying to get some higher quality stills of my barefoot foostrike by using the motion triggering feature on the Casio EX-F1, and he decided he wanted to join in.

Toward the end of our little experiment, I suggested we try running “fast” by the camera, one behind the other. His reply went something along the lines of “When I go fast I like to get up on my toes!” Smart kid. Anyway, the picture below is of our footstrikes, shot one after the other, less than a few seconds apart. Like father, like son on the barefoot forefoot strike I’d say!

Barefoot Running Footstrike
Forefoot strike by my son (left) and me (right). These photos were taken just seconds apart, and we were running pretty fast (wish I’d had my Garmin on).

I was happy to see that I landed on my forefoot in almost every pass, with a few midfoot strikes mixed in (my son actually seems to transition frequently between midfoot and forefoot landings when running barefoot). No heel-striking whatsoever, which is certainly not always the case when I’m wearing shoes! Below is a video fused together from a series of about 30 high-resolution still images, as well as a few more high res pictures of my barefoot footstrike.

Same video as above in higher quality from Vimeo.

Barefoot Running: Forefoot Strike in Slow Motion from Runblogger on Vimeo.
Frame by frame view of my forefoot strike while running barefoot on an asphalt driveway. Filmed at 60 fps on a Casio Exilim EX-F1 digital camera.

Barefoot Running Forefoot Strike
My foot just prior to striking the ground – contact is made on the lateral forefoot. This was taken while running at a “comfortably slow” pace.

Barefoot Running Forefoot Strike
Another view of my lateral forefoot strike while barefoot. You can still see a bit of daylight under the heel here.
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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Hhollines says:

    Pete, that rocks!!!!!

    I think your form is fine quite frankly.

    In terms of foot position landing, this is exactly how I land in
    shods. When I posted a pic of my landing (and a pic of my soles) a
    while back, Tuck immediately told me to check out Anton K. and it was
    right on. This is the exact wear and tear zone on my shoes.

    Your son has a bright future :). Think of all you will teach him that
    we didn’t know.

    I’ve tried really hard this week to move to a mid-foot strike (don’t
    ask me why) and I gave up yesterday and returned to my forefoot strike
    today and I’m back to feeling great. I guess I’m in that 1% – 2% of
    runners with a pure forefoot strike and I’ll leave it alone and never
    try to switch again. The mid-foot strike caused a very minor PF tweak
    as well as tension in the AT so that was my sign to quit and today no
    pain at all as I returned to my forefoot strike. Hence, why I must
    zero drop shoes because any heel build up interferes with my forefoot
    strike and pushes me to a mid-foot strike.

    Harry

  2. Very cool. Much better form than your Vibram heel-strike from a while ago. :)

    Note you and your son are landing on the outside of the foot and rolling in.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Tuck – yeah, quite an improvement from last September :) The lateral
      forefoot landing followed by inward role is almost always how I have seen it
      done – this made me happy.

      Pete

      • Hhollines says:

        Pete, this also shows the difference in the forefoot vs. mid-foot strike. The shock absorbers are in the forefoot area so even a mid-foot strike decreases the natural shock absorbers and reduces the energy return from the uncoiling of the plantar muscles and achilles tendon.

        Harry

        • Pete Larson says:

          Harry,

          Pretty amazing isn’t it! I did some similar shots in my Mach 12 flats,
          and was seeing heel strikes – looks like a bit more bare footing is in
          order for me. I need to figure out how to keep my son out of
          marshmallow shoes!

          Pete

  3. Ted Beveridge says:

    That is GREAT video footage. Just brilliant. Our feet are certainly designed to be shock absorbers. How many rubber bands (ligaments) do we have in our feet? I don’t know the number but it’s gotta be alot.

  4. Ted Beveridge says:

    Great video! Proof positive that our feet are designed to run, they’re great shock absorbers. How many rubber bands (ligaments) do we have in our feet?

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