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Forefoot Running – Be Careful


February 2012

In my last post in which I attempted to live blog a doctor’s visit – something that I have to imagine any author worth his salt would advise against – I came across some interesting news that should be shared on its own lest one sees the title and runs away.

I injured my calf the other evening, assuming that it was due to an increase in mileage that was greater than advisable – I jumped about 80% in a week while 10% is the standard suggested increase.  The following Saturday I dialed it back to 9.2 but the terrain was horrendously icy so it made for a hard run.  I assumed when I decided on the increase that I was more than up to the task because of the intensive biking workouts I’ve grown accustomed.

The injury occurred on my normal Thursday night 5k – on the last two tenths – when I decided to try the “forefoot strike” that has become all the rage in minimalist running.  On seeing my doctor about the injury today, I learned that the problem was not the increase (I explained everything exactly as it happened and left no detail out).  The problem was in trying to change my stride in the last leg.  I pulled my plantaris muscle, a small muscle that runs down the back of the leg in the middle of the calf and attaches to a long tendon that runs down to the Achilles (how that attaches was explained but is a little foggy at the moment).  When I changed at the end of my run to the forefoot stride, my large calf muscles were all fully functional, engaged and pumped up from the effort.  The strikes on the forefoot isolated the plantaris muscle – a muscle that is not used to being isolated during a normal heel strike stride.  It was that isolation of a very weak muscle that did me in.  This is exactly why changing, if one decides to, should be done slowly and carefully (as I’ve written about, ahem, before…”here, take my advice, I’m not using it”).


Fortunately in my case the pull is very minor.  Some stretches and an alteration of my cycling cadence should snap it back into shape in a matter of days.

Photo from the link above "Plantaris"


  1. need2run says:

    I know how you feel – calf injuries stink, to put it mildly. I have been struggling with the for the past couple of years, but so far im clean in 2012. The 10% methord really is working for me. However its a struggle – like going to AA every run. I always want more, more!

  2. try366 says:

    They really are an awful pain. I missed two months last year due to a calf tear, pulled the same one this year but think I caught it early enough. Just struggling my way through rehab now and hoping to get back racing soon enough.

    • bgddyjim says:

      That’s rough… I’d bet that one hurt. I suppose there really is something to the 10% rule (even if I’m going to shirk that Saturday, again). I’m going to have to watch that coming into the spring and summer. Good luck getting back.

  3. […] a light bulb appeared over my head – I just dealt with this less than two months ago, so I let him in on what was going on.  I also asked if he’d […]

  4. […] is no doubt that if done incorrectly, switching from normal padding shod running to minimalist running will cause injury.  Specifically, as it pertains to the mislabeled […]

  5. […] to me, is that I still feel great (herculean jumps in running mileage and a slight dabble in the fore-foot strike notwithstanding).  I had assumed that, with the bulk of my pain gone, my perception would […]

  6. […] Dead Legs Again Posted by bgddyjim on August 8, 2012 Posted in: Cycling, Fitness. Leave a Comment Folks, my legs got some kind of awesome this summer.  After I started running, I used to tease my wife that my legs were so awesome, you could shave me down and stick a pair of pantyhose on me and I’d be some kinda hot…  Now you wouldn’t even have to shave me down, got that covered – alas I’ve got man legs now so they’d look like crap in pantyhose, but that’s a good thing.  I had no idea, when spring came around, how well I’d stick with the whole cycling thing.  Though I was quite certain that I was hooked, I didn’t know if I had it in me to meet the goals I’d laid out…and I had some lofty goals – well I thought they were lofty then. Back in January I wrote on my Goals page that I wanted to ride a metric century in under 4 hours in April.  I beat that by a half an hour.  I wanted to ride a full century in under 6-1/2 hours. I beat that goal by more than an hour – even adjusted for the fact that the course was only 98 miles.  I also set a goal of 4,000 all purpose miles for 2012…  I should break that in September.  It’s been a really good year so far – and most importantly, it’s been almost completely free of injury (the exception being a brief pulled plantaris [small calf muscle] due to ignorance). […]

  7. […] I’ve been through a couple of bouts with plantar fasciitis and a pulled plantaris muscle, but certainly nothing major.  On that pulled plantaris muscle, I did notice something incredibly […]

  8. […] fantastic example is when I pulled my plantaris muscle running several months ago.  My body told me to take three days off thinking I’d really hurt myself but when I went […]

  9. […] fine example was an injury to my plantaris muscle.  I’ve read more than one post on this injury in which people were prescribed two to four […]

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