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December 12, 2006

A proper foot position on landing is a very important part of your running technique but ironically it is not the one that you should focus on. Proper foot landing should become your second nature. For that to happen you need to do it many times over and preferrably do it right each time. How do you repeat one move again and again? You do drills that are designed specifically for that. But let's start from the beginning.

What is the proper foot position on landing? On the ball of your foot with the body weight centered over it. The ball of the foot is also referred to as the forefoot in running literature, the area under the sesamoid joint, 1-st metatarsal and big toe. Sometimes the "forefoot landing" is misunderstood as your toes supposed to be doing something. Let your toes do what they do best - help your body keep balance.

So, you land on the balls of your feet with your bodyweight on them, with the toes doing their own balancing thing and the heels acting accordingly. What does that mean? When you position your body weight over the balls of your feet, even if your heels are still touching the ground, they will feel weightless and off the ground. That's how it should be, any attempt to force your heels to go higher will result in either calf strain or ankle pain, etc. The height of the heel lift on landing is determined by the speed of running. The faster you go - the higher your heel will go. And your heels will do that on their own if you let them, because they are a part of the overall system where everything is connected and is not independent, so when you perform certain actions they set off a whole chain of events that happen "on their own". Because this is how the human body works.

Why is landing on the balls of the feet better than flatfoot landing or heal striking? Because it's the most effective foot position for running technique. While healstriking simply is the cause of majority of running related injuries and should be discarded for that reason alone, the flatfoot landing cannot and does not produce the "spring" effect that allows for virtually any movement.

The ball of foot landing is a part of the "S-spring" body position, making the body compact and loaded with elastic energy and ready to run fast!

How do you practice the proper landing on the ball of foot? You do running drills that are specifically designed to help you perfect just that. Following the recommendations in our Beginner's Guide to Pose Running will help, but you can also find all the running drills in the Pose Method of Running DVD or the Companion Drill Booklet that comes with the Pose DVD.

After practicing the running drills for a while, you'll start executing the right moves simply because your body remembers how, so there is no need to waste energy on focusing on what happens on it's own. And since our goal is to simplify our task of executing a perfect running technique, having one thing less to think about is what we need. That leaves us plenty of time to work on what needs your attention - pulling your g*d d**n foot from ground! ... but that's another article altogether....

Lana Romanov
for Dr.Romanov

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