Foot Motion in Running

By Warren and Patti Finke, Team Oregon
The motion of the foot during running is a complex motion in all axes. There are essentially 5 phases as depicted from left to right below or as shown in the video. The motion is emphasised here beyond normal ranges for clarity.

Phase 1: Heel Strike Supinated

During this phase the foot is supinated, (rolled to the outside), and generally strikes the ground at the outer heel to midfoot. This is evidenced by normal wear on the outer heel of a running shoe.

Phase 2: Weighted Pronated

As the foot is weighted it must absorb shock and inward rotation of the lower leg. This is done by inward rotation of the ankle called pronation. Pronation unlocks the joints of the midfoot allowing them to cushion the shock. Some pronation is required. Since the foot, leg, hip system is a closed kinetic chain, excessive pronation or under pronation can cause injuries of the foot, knee and hip. Likewise hip problems can cause knee and foot problems below in the chain.

Phase 3: Weighted Neutral

To properly re-lock the bones of the foot for a rigid toe off, and to allow external rotation of the leg, the ankle must rotate back outward or supinate to a neutral position as the weight is transfered further forward to the ball of the foot.

Phase 4: Toe Off Supinated

At toe off the foot is slightly supinated and provides a rigid lever and efficient energy transfer. Normal shoe wear pattern is from the outside of the heel toward the big toe and off the middle front of the shoe.

Phase 5: Recovery

During the recovery phase the foot and leg are accelerated forward and then backwards again to match the speed of the runner before the next heel strike.


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