Metabolic and mechanical aspects of foot landing type, forefoot and rearfoot strike, in human running

Acta Physiol Scand. 1995 Sep;155(1):17-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-1716.1995.tb09943.x.


The study was undertaken to assess the metabolic and the mechanical aspects of two different foot strike patterns in running, i.e. forefoot and rearfoot striking (FFS and RFS), and to understand whether there is some advantage for a runner to use one or the other of the two landing styles. Eight subjects performed two series of runs (FFS and RFS) on a treadmill at an average speed of 2.50, 2.78, 3.06, 3.33, 3.61, 3.89, 4.17 m s-1. Step frequency, oxygen uptake, mechanical work, and its two components, external and internal, were measured. No differences were found for step frequency, mechanical internal work per unit time and oxygen uptake, while external and total mechanical work per unit time were significantly higher, 7-12%, for FFS. The higher external work was the result of an increase of the work performed against both gravitational and inertial forces. As the energy expenditure was the same it has been speculated that a higher storage and release of energy takes place in the elastic structures of the lower leg with FFS. In a different series of experiments on six subjects contact time, time of deceleration and time of acceleration were measured by means of a video camera while running on the treadmill at 2.50, 3.33 and 4.17 m s-1, both FFS and RFS. Time of deceleration is similar for FFS and RFS, but contact time and time of acceleration are shorter, respectively 12 and 25%, for FFS.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Running / physiology*