No Heel Striking · 22 November 2012
Sore calves are much easier to deal with than sore knees.
I remember being younger and trying to get into running. Back in the eighties, it was all the rage. People wanted to run to get in shape. I wanted to get in shape too, but running hurt too much. So I hated it.
I did not mind sprinting. I liked to play soccer and volleyball. Or do any type of sport that involved sprinting or jumping. Even now, I still like sports like basketball where quickness and explosive power are necessary.
As I look back and compare what I liked to do then and the running I do today, I see one similarity. Whether I am running or jumping or moving side to side, I never really hit my heels to the ground first. I do not jar my body with a heel strike.
The sports that I like to do most are quick paced and never really require my heels to hit the ground as the initial point of contact. I have been playing basketball for years and can see that the only time my heel hits the ground is when my whole foot hits the ground. It seems counterintuitive, but I have never had sore knees playing any of those sports that emphasized quickness and seem to be more jarring on the body than running.
Once I saw the connection between heel striking and sore knees, I tried running without those heel strikes. When running in “normal” shoes, that was nearly impossible. After all, most running shoes are designed to make you want to hit your heels first. So every time I tried to like running, I could never sustain the effort because it took too much work to run without heel striking.
I am glad I finally got some minimalist shoes. Even though I am out of shape and huffing and puffing while I am doing it, I am running. And I am finally enjoying it. After all those times of trying to force myself to like running, I never realized that all I needed to do was quit pounding my heels into the pavement. I never realized that I could protect my knees by not heel striking.
I know different parts of my body will continue to be sore as I get stronger and healthier. That is just how the body works. But as I think about my sore calves, I need to remember this lesson that has taken years to learn. Heel striking hurts. And having sore calves is much better than having sore knees.
© 2012 Michael T. Miyoshi
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