Running Cadence and Injury

  • 7 July 2020
  • Physio Form

Most runners are vigilant of their running metrics. Things, like pace, distance and elevation are commonly shared on social media. But there's another, that you may want to take a closer look at. Cadence. Understanding cadence, will in turn, give you a metric to monitor in order to improve your running form, decrease your risk of injury and run faster.



What is Cadence?

Cadence can also be described as your stride rate. Put simply, the number of steps you take per minute whilst running (with both feet). Runners with a higher cadence will often appear smooth and effortless, whereas, those with a low cadence will appear bouncy and laboured. It has been known for over 30 years that the average "ideal" cadence is 180 bpm. Since working closely with runners over the last few years, even experienced athletes often fall considerably short of the mark. 

What is the relationship between Cadence & Injury 

Increasing your cadence is one of the simplest ways to reduce the risk of injury. By increasing your cadence your reduce the ground reaction forces your joints, bones and connective tissues are exposed to. Lower forces = Lower risk of injury. In addition to ground forces, a higher cadence actually reduces stride length. Evidence has concluded that over-striding increases the likelihood of stress fractures. 

How can I increase my Cadence? 

Trying to increase your cadence can be exhausting. An increase by anything above 10% comes with a heavy metabolic price tag. Your lungs will have to work a lot harder due to higher oxygen demands. So, just like all other training principals, we want to increase cadence slowly over time. 

Step 1| Ascertain your current cadence using a metrics app

Step 2| During your runs, use drills such as strides, hills and tempos to hit higher cadences (Not greater than 10% of previous step)  

Step 3| Slowly incorporate longer sections of runs at higher cadences 

Step 4| Once completing runs at a higher cadence maintain this for a few months before shooting higher


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