Running Form – LIFT Those Feet

I mentioned a while back that my increase in running was causing me to have some pain on the tops of my feet. It wasn’t just the increase in running though, I’ve had it before and it just seems kind of random.  One major point of running barefoot is to listen to your body tell you when you need to change something, so I cut back a little bit on my running and left it at that for a bit.

Stacey over at ArtSnark’s Artifacts mentioned that she was curious enough to Google what would cause that.  Geez.  Why didn’t I think of that?  I Google everything else! So I did too.

My results were actually pretty funny.  The number one cause of top of the foot pain is running in shoes that are too tight.  The number one suggestion to combat it is to loosen your shoes.  Um, that just isn’t going to work for me.  Another suggestion was to stop running for a while.  Seriously?  I wasn’t injured I just had a wee bit of pain.

Finally I gave up on Google (don’t usually have to do that!) and went straight to the Running Barefoot site and did a search there. I found a good article on foot pain after barefoot running in general and specifically what can cause top of the foot pain. Basically the article says top of the foot pain after barefoot running can be caused by ‘pushing off’ with your foot as you run.

Hey, I don’t do that!  So to prove it I had my son take a video of me running on the treadmill so I could see exactly how my feet did or did not push off.

Damn it, they did.

This whole taking pictures and videos of myself to check out my form is really a bit of a bummer.  But also a learning experience so I started concentrating on lifting my legs when I run instead of pushing off the ground.  It’s one of the two hardest parts of running with good form (for me) and they are, of course related. The second is cadence which will always be a work in progress.

So according to the article and many other sources of barefoot running knowledge the trick is “Instead of pushing off, begin lifting your foot BEFORE it lands.”  Not just this, but also lifting your entire foot, forefoot first, instead of rolling your foot up heel first like it seems that I very much do. This is not something that comes natural to me and it is not anything like easy for me to even completely comprehend.  I try to do it and I feel like I am prancing like a kid pretending to be a pony.  Plus I start moving my feet much, much quicker (as I think you are supposed to actually) and then I am tired 2 minutes later.

So this one is a bit more of a challenge for me than running with bent knees. I think it’s something that will take me awhile to really get, but I believe that running form is probably something that you have to check back in on along the way no matter how long you have been running so that’s alright.

But guess what. Although I don’t think about lifting my legs all the time nor do I think about lifting forefoot first too often it seems I’ve been thinking about it enough.  Because I no longer have any pain on the top of my feet at all.  It took a good week or two of practicing the forefoot bit but it worked!

Do you ever think about how you are touching the ground when you run? Do you push your legs into the ground with each stride or do you try to lift your feet with each step?  Do you think it even matters?

The more I study and try to practice good running form the more I’m becoming a believer!