A Cure for Foot Slapping - Chi Running

A Cure for Foot Slapping

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Tue Aug 19th, 2008, 12 comments

I was recently asked, for the umpteenth time, a question that deserves a good answer.

“When I concentrate on striking mid-foot and keeping my
lower legs very relaxed, it feels and sounds like my feet are slapping the pavement much harder than before.  Is this normal, or does my form still need correcting?”

For many first-timers to ChiRunning, learning to run with a midfoot strike is a very new experience. The new way your feet touch the ground, along with a distinctive full-bodied tilt can take a little time to get used to. What happens for some folks who are working on a midfoot strike, is that they notice their feet tend to slap the pavement more then they used to. If this happens to you it’s a sign that you’re on the right path to getting a midfoot strike, but it’s also a sign that there’s more work to do in other areas of your stride.

Here’s what I mean. Most people are used to swinging their legs forward when they take a stride…whether they’re walking or running. What this does is create a heel strike where your heel then becomes a fulcrum and your foot slaps down onto the pavement with each step. Not only is a heel strike unhealthy for your knees, the slapping can bruise the metatarsal heads and make your feet feel like they’re on fire.

In the ChiRunning and ChiWalking techniques, the foot strikes under your center of mass in a midfoot strike. This eliminates a heel strike and shortens your support time. The legs are always swinging to the rear, which noticeably reduces the amount of impact to the knees. When many people first try the midfoot strike they tend to focus more on the landing than on what the rest of their body is doing. The way to get rid of the slapping is to work on your pelvic rotation, which is mentioned on pages 179-180 of the ChiRunning book, and also mentioned at the top of page 82. In the ChiWalking book it is explained and illustrated on page 87.

As your foot hits the ground under you, your leg begins its rearward swing. Your leg then extends out behind you and when your foot returns to its original support position, it’s underneath you again…not landing out in front of you. As long as your foot never lands in front of your body, the slapping will go away.

Here’s the trick. Every time your leg swings out the back, let your hip swing back with it. This will force your hips and pelvis to rotate in the direction your rear leg is swinging, creating a healthy twisting motion along your spine. Your stride will open up behind you, as it should, and you’ll experience a new sense of smoothness in your gait because your legs will no longer be swinging forward which causes foot slapping.

Happy Trails,



  • injury-free running,
  • running,
  • injury prevention,
  • midfoot strike,
  • walking,
  • chirunning,
  • chiwalking,
  • foot slapping

12 CommentsLeave a comment below

So that is why my feet are hurting!

Phillip Pulsipher Sep 9th, 2008 06:53am

I don’t know how know if I am doing the pelvic rotation.  You say to let your hip swing back with your leg.  How do I know if I am doing that?

Marta Erceg Sep 9th, 2008 10:00am

I’ve read the book, and all the articles, and still wonder how can I strike at “mid-foot” when my arch is there and won’t be touching the ground?  Do you mean that I should strike the rear of the ball of my foot?  That seems to be aggravating the ball of my foot.  Thanks!

Raymond Rivera Sep 15th, 2008 10:33am

Do you think the NB 800 is a better Chi-running shoe than the NB1306? If you could please tell me the comparison and what you would suggest. I’d appreciate it very much…Thank you…..Ray Rivera

HI Danny,
I took a Chi Running course with Mark Wallis (wonderful instructor!) this past Saturday and tried out the techniques on a short run this morning. Your timing is impeccable as I was just wondering about the loud foot slap sound I was hearing as I was focusing on mid-foot strike. Good to know I’m on the right track, now to focus on those hips… Thanks!

I’ve been having this issue for the longest time & always knew something wasn’t quite correct.  I understood the wheel or road runner analogy, but at the same time I was also concentrating on using my core musles to lift my feet up.  While focusing on peeling the feet off the ground concept & engaging the core muscles it lead to a habit of just dropping my feet straight down & lifting it right up instead of down & out back.

I’ve always tried to open up my hips or pelvis to lengthen the stride as I shifted to a higher gear via the lean, but still did hear & feel the slap on the ground.  Now I’m much more aware to let my feet just slide back smoothly like the wheel motion!  It also helps to have that ideal cadence so that we’re not supporting our weight any longer than necessary.

Thank you! I was also noticing a loud ‘slap’ on the ground and I wondered about that! I had a feeling it was not right and I definitely appreciate the information! I am attending a chi running class, and what you said here makes perfect sense because we were video taped yesterday and it turns out I wasn’t leaning properly! (Bending at the waist). Thus, also in accordance with what you’re saying, my swing wasn’t going behind me and instead I must have been still landing in front. Thanks for clarifying the foot slap!

Danny Blog A Cure for Foot Slapping | Hammock Stan May 31st, 2009 08:43pm

[...] Danny Blog A Cure for Foot Slapping   Posted by root 26 minutes ago (http://chirunning.com)      Every time your leg swings out the back let your hip swing back with it comment by phillip pulsipher september 9 2008 11 53 am meredith roach on core strengthening series part iv the chair ball exercise 2008 chiliving inc 30 orchard street asheville nc 28     Discuss   |  Bury |   News | Danny Blog A Cure for Foot Slapping [...]

I am confused.  I have been trying to maintain a neutral pelvis, concentrating on abdominals lifting the pubic bone (vision of not spilling a cup of water).  However, above recommends letting the hip swing back with the rear leg.  Can you deconflict for me?

There’s really no conflict as long as you’re swinging your entire lower body from T12/L1 as described on page 99 of the newest version of the ChiRunning book. As long as your pelvis is held level it can still rotate and swing along with your rearward swinging leg as long as it is swinging from a point located above. Imagine a chandelier hanging from a single point on the ceiling of a room. The chandelier can remain level while rotating from a pivoting point above it.

Hope this helps,

Thank you, and I appreciate the chandelier visual.  I purchased the book not too long ago, I’ll have to check out what edition.  I tend to read slow and try to take single concepts at a time.  Due to Achilles issues for many months, I have added 2 Yoga sessions a week.  Also just now trying out PiTaiYo.  Both have brought interest in your posts on minimal shoes…

Mike Cassidy Dec 26th, 2016 11:24pm

Foot Slapping Theory by Mike Cassidy

I had foot slapping with my right foot for about 6 months.
Now the foot slapping has stopped.

This is a non-medical observation and theory for my particular problem.
I’m sure there are many different causes and solutions of foot slapping.

My foot slapping occurs on flat ground when right heel touches ground first
and the rest of foot slaps onto ground.
The sound of the foot slapping comes from the inability of the tibialis anterior muscle
to control the forefoot, after the heel strikes when walking. 
This muscle extends from the front of the tibia (the large bone in the lower leg) down to the foot.

I hike up/down a mountain on a paved trail/road twice several times a week. 
It has a constant slope of 600 ft over 1 mile.
While walking down, it is difficult to touch my toes to pavement first wearing my high-top boots.
So I touch heel first and the angle between my shine and foot reaches 170 degrees which over stretches
this muscle.
This weakens the ankles that now are more susceptible to twisting that over extends the muscle even more.
This over extended and weakened muscle can no longer keep the foot from slapping on flat ground.

As the weather cooled in Phoenix, I was able to slowly jog down instead of walking.
With quicker steps and shorter stride, I was then able to contact the pavement
with my toes first without over extending the muscle.
This muscle was restored to its proper length and strength and
the foot slapping stopped on flat ground within a week.

Again, this is my theory for my particular problem and solution.

What are your thoughts?

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