Accuracy of Self Reported Foot Strike Patterns

The analysis and implementation of different foot strike patterns among runners has grown over the last 10 years.  Changes in foot strike patterns have been shown to reduce loading through the leg and may help reduce the risk or symptoms associated with different running related injuries.  Many runners entering our Physical Therapy clinic state confidence in their ability to utilize a certain gait pattern (fore, mid, or rear foot striking), but often their subjective report is inconsistent with our objective video taped gait analysis.   In prior research less than 70% of runners were shown to accurately determine their foot strike pattern without confirmed video tape analysis.  

A recent research article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy compared the subjective report of foot strike patterns to the objective biomechanical measurement among collegiate and recreational runners (Bade et al. 2016).  Runners were asked for their preferred foot strike pattern (fore, mid, or heel) and then tested as they ran at their preferred speed on a treadmill.  Although collegiate runners were able to more accurately identify their strike pattern (56.5 vs. 43.5%), both groups were not able to accurately identify their gait pattern.

This study highlights the importance of using a skilled Physical Therapist to analyze a runner's gait to determine its' impact on their biomechanics and injury risk.  Importantly, this may question a runner's ability to independently change their gait pattern without an objective measurement by a Physical Therapist.