Foot strike patterns after obstacle clearance during running

Shane D. Scholten, Nicholas Stergiou, Alan Hreljac, Jeremy Houser, Daniel Blanke, L. Russell Alberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Running over obstacles of sufficient height requires heel strike (HS) runners to make a transition in landing strategy to a forefoot (FF) strike, resulting in similar ground reaction force patterns to those observed while landing from a jump. Identification of the biomechanical variables that distinguish between the landing strategies may offer some insight into the reasons that the transition occurs. The purpose of this study was to investigate the difference in foot strike patterns and kinetic parameters of heel strike runners between level running and running over obstacles of various heights. Methods: Ten heel strike subjects ran at their self-selected pace under seven different conditions: unperturbed running (no obstacle) and over obstacles of six different heights (10%, 12.5%, 15%, 17.5%, 20%, and 22.5% of their standing height). The obstacle was placed directly before a Kistler force platform. Repeated measures ANOVAs were performed on the subject means of selected kinetic parameters. Results: The statistical analysis revealed significant differences (P < 0.004) for all of the parameters analyzed. The evaluation of the center of pressure and the ground reaction forces indicated that the foot strike patterns were affected by the increased obstacle height. Between the 12.5% and 15% obstacle conditions, the group response changed from a heel strike to a forefoot strike pattern. Conclusions: At height > 15%, the pattern was more closely related to the foot strike patterns found in jumping activities. This strategy change may represent a gait transition effected as a mechanism to protect against increased impact forces. Greater involvement of the ankle and the calf muscles could have assisted in attenuating the increased impact forces while maintaining speed after clearing the obstacle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Gait transitions
  • Ground reaction forces
  • Locomotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Foot strike patterns after obstacle clearance during running'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this