Couch to 5K

Bizarre technical question

Hello everyone,

I've learnt so much from reading this forum so I'm hoping someone out there might be able to help with this.

When you run are you supposed to push off with the toes of your trailing leg?

I ask because the running action doesn't come naturally to me. I had to relearn how to walk many years ago after being paralysed by a neurological condition and I've come to rely on my big muscles as they recovered much faster eg when going upstairs I use my quads to pull me up without any helpful toe pushing from the lower leg if that makes sense.

Today I did about 30seconds of running concentrating on pushing off with my back leg and it was amazing. I felt like I was flying along like a bounding gazelle (probably looked more like a pogoing elephant!) and runkeeper put my speed at 7.56 rather than the usual 9.10 ish I manage. Is that how how you're supposed to do it?


8 Replies

Blimey!! I've got no idea, I've never even thought of it. Sounds like a question for Bazza or Rignold, they seem to delve deep into the theory behind running. What I would say is that it seems to work for you, so why not just go for it. Great post though, I'll look forward to reading the replies. Good luck

1 like

No idea. I tried concentrating on what did what when I was running once, and narrowly avoided tripping myself up. I now just run, and let my legs get on with things as they wish. Although now you've got me wondering if I can be a pogoing elephant too.


Sounds good! Avoid overstriding, avoid bouncing up and down too much, make sure your foot lands under your hips - these were points mentioned to me by an experienced runner bean, eh, friend I mean :-)


The problem is that I can't watch myself running...I always wonder whether my feet land underneath my hips... :-)


I'd say yes, you should definitely push off with your back leg. Running is a little like controlled falling, with a slight forward lean, according to the experts. It should be an automatic reflex but if you've had neurological problems to overcome I guess that may be compromised a bit. But if it feels good and you are going faster without anything hurting you are doing the right thing!


Pushing off with the toes of your trailing leg is exactly what you should be doing, but I would emphasise ViaM's advice, especially about over striding. You will go faster with a longer stride...........until your knees object, so keep stride short.


Thanks everyone. Good point to avoid over striding as I'm pretty sure I was doing that this morning.

So on my next run I think I'll try fartleking (is that a verb?) with faster intervals using my toes while keeping short steps and then recovery periods with my usual plodding. I wouldn't be able to keep the toe pushing up for more than a minute at a time at the moment as my toes just don't have the strength. They don't get tired, just stop responding to instructions. It's quite a weird feeling. Maybe I should find some toe strengthening exercises to do if there are such things!

who knows, maybe I'll be able to wear flip flops one day, at the moment I can't keep them on!


The force of my "push-off" is low and hence my stride is short -- this is the main reason (I believe) as to why I run slowly. I "can" apply more pushoff force and I do then run faster -- BUT NOT FOR LONG!!! :(


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