This Is The Best Way To Run, According To 53 Scientific Studies

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.
The Best Way to Run, According to Research

Image by mbg Creative x Ivan Gener / Stocksy

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," says Christian Barton, Ph.D., after studying new research on the effectiveness of different running styles. 

In the past, there have been many different opinions about which style of running is best, especially when it comes to avoiding injury, beating a personal record, or just getting the most possible exercise out of your run. In a study published in Sports Medicine this week, researchers examined the different methods of running to determine which is best.

So, heel to toe or toe to heel?

Researchers reviewed the findings from 53 different studies on the impact of forefoot, rearfoot, and flatfoot running patterns on things like injury and effectiveness. 

Previously, people were told that running toe to heel may have been a way to avoid injury, specifically shin splints. According to Barton, however, "Our comprehensive review suggests that telling someone to run on the ball of their foot instead of their heel may make them less efficient, at least in the short term. Additionally, there is no evidence either way on whether running on the balls of your feet reduces injury."

The study showed little difference in injury across the various running patterns and found that runners performed best when they didn't alter their natural running style in any way. For more than 90% of people, this natural pattern is the heel-to-toe pattern.

This development could make a big difference for runners and athletes who have been adopting the toe-to-heel method of running to avoid injury, as it may just be hindering their performance without actually lowering their risk of injury. Barton suggests seeking advice from a professional coach or doctor before making any decisions on altering running patterns.

Running is a healthy and effective form of exercise, but this research highlights the importance of making sure you're being careful and not pushing yourself too hard. Listening to your body is essential, and when done right, running can open up possibilities to affect your life in a positive way, both mentally and physically.

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