How Many Steps Per Minute are You Taking? Don’t know? Check and then DO MORE!
What does increasing cadence do for you? Spoiler Alert:
- More flexed knee at impact, absorbing the shock better
- greater glute activity, preparing for impact
- lower toes (less dorsiflexed ankle) on impact, reducing braking forces
- reduced stride length, causing less overstride
- reduced vertical movement (less going up and down), improving efficiency and reducing impact overall
- </Spoiler alert>.
(More about strengthening yr glutes, Video about superb stride technique move.)
Do you even know what your cadence is? Most runners don’t, so chances are you are one of them. Well: if you’ve got a fancy running watch, it may be able to simply tell you. Easy. If not: try counting. Don’t try to get to a full minute; you’ll go mad trying – or will run into a tree or off a cliff in the process. Try to get to 20 seconds, repeat a few times for consistency and multiply by 3. Job done.
Note: the more experienced or professional the runner, the higher the cadence usually is. No coincidence, off course.
Ready to learn what Cadence can do for you?
The reduction of impact forces is a big one, with many running injuries – not just bony stress injuries – thought to be related to our bodies struggling to adequately cushion or ‘shock-absorb’ impact forces.
Lenhart demonstrated that increasing cadence by 10% reduced peak ground reaction force by 2.6% – and while that doesn’t sound that impressive on its own, consider the cumulative effect of that over a long run…
Indeed, Wellenkotter calculated that even with a 5% increase in cadence, the impact force at the heel would be reduced by over 550 times body-weight over a mile.
Yep, you read that right – reduced by over 550 times body-weight over a mile! EVERY Mile!
Because our bodies are big connected machines, changing one thing when running can have a big flow-on effect throughout the rest of the lower limb – as the song goes, ‘the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone’!
Case in point: Overstriding is a common technique issue in runners, but is really well addressed by increasing cadence, which shows significant reduction in stride length. Through reducing the stride length, the knee is in a slightly more bent position at impact, which enables the lower limb to better attenuate impact and reduce load at the knee. ……….
Upping cadence and reducing overstride also helps to reduce braking forces – forces that the ground exerts back on you to slow you down – and reduces your vertical displacement when you run; both of which aid efficiency and economy. When running, we want all of your energy spent in moving forwards, not wasting it going up & down!
Try it for yourself – simply being aware of your cadence, and experimenting with smaller, quicker steps to see how your body feels with it, is a really good start. There’s a number of ways we can train cadence – from stepping in time to simple metronomes, to some cool cadence apps that can even play music that matches your target cadence! Cruise Control (http://www.cruisecontrolrun.com/#) and Tempo Run (http://www.temporunapp.com/) are two good ones, but there are many, many others.
While most of the biomechanical changes reported in the research have come from cadence changes of 10%, that may not be appropriate for everybody, and may be too much of a change on what your body’s used to initially.
We’d often recommend perhaps starting with a 5% change initially, then another 5% later on as your body has gotten used to the faster turnover – remember: your body will adapt, provided you give it time to.
So runners – the conclusion is clear: when it comes to cadence, more is better!
Source: Mat Prior.