The pendulum is swinging once again. A few years back it was determined that rearfoot (or heel) striking was dysfunctional in running gait and that mid or forefoot striking was more "natural". And as "Born to Run" would tell us, a more natural gait pattern would help us prevent injuries. While this is true in some runners, many other runners continued to struggle to 1) change over to this style of running and 2) get relief from their injuries after they've done so.
Our foot has 2 functions during the gait cycle. It has to be pliable during the heelstrike phase of gait in order to allow the foot the conform to the ground and absorb shock and then as the foot gets ready to transition from accepting our body weight to pushing off of the ground, it has to become a rigid lever or platform for us to push off of. This recent study suggests that by changing our gait pattern to mid or forefoot striking, we are preventing our foot from conforming to the ground, by bypassing straight to hitting on the mid / forefoot vs landing on the heel. In essence we skip over the stretchy phase of the gait cycle and go right into the rigid phase. Per the study, "plantar fasciitis."
I've always been a fan of making sure that the body has a nice balance between mobility, flexibility and strength around the joints. I find that more times than not, addressing these deficits within a runner have a nice way of correcting not only gait deviations like arch/knee collapse, or hip drop, but can also allow the runner to use a comfortable, more self-selected gait pattern.
Click HERE to see our link for exercises to help with mobilizing and strengthening the plantar fascia and foot intrinsic muscles.
Ultrasound elastographic assessment of plantar fascia in runners using rearfoot strike and forefoot strike