Running is considered to be one of the most easily accessible forms of exercise and is often turned to when people seek to lose weight or improve their fitness. However, yearly incidence of injury in novice runners can range anywhere from 18-79% (van Gent et al., 2007). While running is effective at improving health, precautions should be taken to avoid injury.
Although injury risk factors in runners are influenced by a wide variety of factors, one useful strategy to decrease injury risk is by increasing your stride rate (Heiderscheit et al., 2011).Stride rate, or cadence is measured as either the number of steps taken per minute or the number of strides taken per minute. Running speed is a product of stride length and stride rate. If running speed is kept constant, an increase in stride rate forces runners to decrease their stride length.
As stride rate is increased and stride length is decreased at a constant speed, there are decreases in center of mass vertical excursions, decreases in ground reaction forces, impact shock, and energy absorbed at the hip, knee, and ankle (Schubert et al., 2014). The minimum change in stride rate required to observe a change is anywhere from a 5 – 10% increase in stride rate (Schubert et al., 2014).
Excessive hip movement while running, specifically adduction and internal rotation, is associated with anterior knee pain and iliotibial band syndrome (Noehren et al., 2007). A 5–10% increase in stride rate reduces peak hip adduction when the leg is absorbing the impact of the ground rate (Heiderscheit et al., 2011) and can reduce some of the biomechanical risk factors of common hip and knee injuries.
In addition, a 10% decrease in stride length while maintaining a self-selected speed can also decrease the risk of stress fractures in the shin by 3-6% (Edwards et al., 2009).The recommendation is that runners should aim for at least 85 strides per minute or in other words 170 steps per min (Lieberman et al., 2015). Running to music set at 170bpm or practicing stepping at 170bpm using a metronome app before running can be a useful way to develop an inner rhythm to help keep your stride rate up.
The Curve 3 self driven treadmill is a great way to work on stride rate since over striding commonly seen during a slower stride rate will cause the belt to accelerate and quickly become too fast. A shorter stride and higher frequency of steps where the foot lands closer to your centre of mass, under your hips will keep the treadmill at a controlled speed
Running with appropriate stride length and rate
Note how the foot lands almost directly under the hips when running with appropriate stride rate.
Running with too much stride length, over striding quickly leads to an uncontrolled pace.
Author: Benjamin Workman B.Sc, PTS
Heiderscheit BC, Chumanov ES, Michalski MP, Wille CM, Ryan MB. Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(2):296–302. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ebedf4
Lieberman DE, Warrener AG, Wang J, Castillo ER. Effects of stride frequency and foot position at landing on braking force, hip torque, impact peak force and the metabolic cost of running in humans.J Exp Biol. 2015; 218(Pt 21):3406-14. doi: 10.1242/jeb.125500
Noehren B, Davis I, Hamill J. ASB clinical biomechanics award winner 2006 prospective study of the biomechanical factors associated with iliotibial band syndrome. Clin Biomech. 2007 Nov;22(9):951-6
Schubert AG, Kempf J, Heiderscheit BC. Influence of stride frequency and length on running mechanics: a systematic review. Sports Health. 2014;6(3):210–217. doi:10.1177/1941738113508544
van Gent RN, Siem D, van Middelkoop M, et al. Incidence and determinants of lower extremity running injuries in long distance runners: a systematic review. Br. J. Sports Med. 2007; 41:469-80.