Here is some newly published rocket science:
Is the rearfoot pattern the most frequently foot strike pattern among recreational shod distance runners?
Matheus Oliveira de Almeida, Bruno Tirotti Saragiotto, Tiê Parma Yamato, Alexandre Dias Lopes
Physical Therapy in Sport; Available online 26 February 2014
To determine the distribution of the foot strike patterns among recreational shod runners and to compare the personal and training characteristics between runners with different foot strike patterns.
Areas of running practice in São Paulo, Brazil.
514 recreational shod runners older than 18 years and free of injury.
Foot strike patterns were evaluated with a high-speed camera (250 Hz) and photocells to assess the running speed of participants. Personal and training characteristics were collected through a questionnaire.
The inter-rater reliability of the visual foot strike pattern classification method was 96.7% and intra-rater reliability was 98.9%. 95.1% (n= 489) of the participants were rearfoot strikers, 4.1% (n= 21) were midfoot strikers, and four runners (0.8%) were forefoot strikers. There were no significant differences between strike patterns for personal and training characteristics.
This is the first study to demonstrate that almost all recreational shod runners were rearfoot strikers. The visual method of evaluation seems to be a reliable and feasible option to classify foot strike pattern.
They probably are the first to show that in “recreational” runners (rather than runners in a marathon) that most (95%) are heel strikers, but its not like we did not sort of know that anyway. This compares to this study of 85.1% (in a 50k trail race); and figures of 94% for this study and 89% from this study being heel strikers (both in marathons). Is it possible that there are more heel strikers in “recreational” runners than in those who compete in marathons?
Even though the information is not ‘earth shattering‘, the strength of the study is that they did report the reliability (intra- and inter-rater) which you do not often see in a lot of studies like this. I can’t see anything in the study that jumps out at me as being an issue unless there is something in São Paulo, Brazil that make them different so we can’t generalize the results to other running populations.
As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise, and this evidence tells me that 95.1% of recreational runners in São Paulo, Brazil are heel strikers.
de Almeida, M., Saragiotto, B., Yamato, T., & Lopes, A. (2014). Is the rearfoot pattern the most frequently foot strike pattern among recreational shod distance runners? Physical Therapy in Sport DOI: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2014.02.005