Running is a common form of exercise that people participate in for its health benefits. Distance running has been shown to improve cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and lung function. Recent research has shown that running does not increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. In fact, running might actually decrease one's risk of developing osteoarthritis2.
Despite the well-known health benefits of running, some runners do develop pain/injuries that are running-related. Research has shown that there is a fairly simple and effective way to treat (and possibly prevent) common running injuries. By manipulating step frequency (and subsequently stride length), runners can reduce the stress on their hips and lower extremities.
Step frequency (also known as cadence) is the number of steps taken in a given amount of time (typically measured in one minute) while running3,4. Stride length is the distance that one foot travels from the time it leaves the ground to the time it touches the ground again5. A runner with a long stride tends to take fewer steps per minute. Having a long stride, or over-striding, typically results in the lead foot making contact with the ground out in front of the runner and away from their center of mass. When the heel strikes out in front of the runner, the forces from the ground are applied back up through the legs creating a braking effect.
By increasing cadence, a runner will naturally decrease their stride length. Increasing cadence will also decrease vertical displacement, which helps to reduce impact when the runner returns to the ground. Shorter strides also create a more vertical tibia during ground contact aiding in shock absorption. All of these results can immediately eliminate symptoms of injury1.
If you are interested in learning more about how to effectively and efficiently make changes to your running form/technique to reduce injury risk and find greater enjoyment in running, contact one of our clinics. One of our highly trained therapists would be happy to assist you!