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What Is The Best Running Cadence?

Step rate (or cadence) is one of the key elements of a runner’s rhythm. One small change can make a big difference.

Run Lab

Research tells us that as many as 65-80% of recreational runners will pick up an injury each year. 1 of the 3 key components that make up an efficient, injury free runner is your running form. During our 1 hour Run Lab assessment we video analyse your technique and evaluate your body shape (otherwise known kinematics).

A vital part of your technique is your rhythm. It sets the tone for your bodies motion. A simple way for a runner to measure their rhythm is to measure their step rate (or cadence). In our highly technical world, nowadays runners can now do this simply with the touch of a button on a GPS watch. Just like cyclists measuring revolutions on a bike, or swimmers strokes in a length. Runners can check if their run has a rhythm using this simple measurement.

Dispelling the myths

“Stride out”. “Pump the arms”. It’s time we moved away from the old school! Running is a skill. It’s what we were born to do. Unfortunately, it’s not taught as a fundamental skill from a young age. We are left to find out the hard way. Although not every runner looks the same, there are certain golden rules to adhere to when it comes to technique. Simple, effective rules. Not too technical or overly complicated.

Shorter and quicker is better.

Current research favours a quicker, shorter step. Ideally between 170-190 steps per minute on average. The main theory being that this spreads force more evenly through the body rather than overload one area. As we know, the body will always follow the easiest path. Its usually this path that leads to the weakest part, and ultimately pain.

One of the most common technique faults among recreational runners is a slow step rate (or cadence). Recent studies have shown that as little as a 5-10% increase in step rate can aid in reducing the magnitude of several biomechanical forces on the body (otherwise known as kinetics). Numerous advantages have been shown. Reducing knee bend on initial foot strike leading to smaller pressures on the kneecap joint, spending less time in contact with the ground, reducing any over striding, to name a few. A subtle difference to look at. A big difference to feel! See below:

Just this one simple change can also make a difference elsewhere, for example, posture, trunk stability and foot strike (a big debate in its own right). There are ideal step rates and simple ways of bringing these about within your weekly runs. Read more on our Run Lab assessments to see how we can use technique cues as useful rehab strategies for helping you return to running, more efficient, and injury free.

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Running is evolving. Keep up with the pace!

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