Want to run faster and get a new pb? Have you considered cadence? Cadence is how often your feet touch the ground, or stride rate. It is measured in strides per minute (spm). It’s a good indicator of RUNNING FORM. The shorter your stride length and the quicker your stride rate, the faster and better you run. 

You can work out your own cadence by counting the number of times one foot strikes the ground in 30 seconds, e.g. 38. Multiply this by two to get the total for a minute,which in this example gives you 76, and then double again to get the total for both feet, 152spm. 

 The slower your cadence, the longer your stride, the longer you are in the air and the harder you land.  In an attempt to run faster, runners often increase their stride length. This can lead to over-striding which is associated with greater braking forces and excessive impact ... you lock your knees, land heavily on your heels, and your shin muscles work hard to control the placement of your foot on the ground. This actually slows you down, and your muscles and joints suffer greater impact forces, making you more susceptible to injury.

A cadence of less than 160spm is typically seen in runners who over-stride.   

Scientific studies have shown that an increased cadence reduces the impact forces of running. Less impact means less likelihood of injuries. An increased cadence reduces shock at the hip, knee, and ankle, and ground contact time.  Small increases in stride rate can cause large reductions in loading on the hip and knee joints during running and help prevent common running injuries. The higher your cadence, the shorter your stride, and you spend less time in the air, landing softly.

Regardless of a runner's height, weight or leg length, a cadence of around 180spm is associated with good running efficiency. 

Increasing cadence means changing where your feet land, not just moving them faster. Your feet land directly under your pelvis or centre of gravity. This shortens your stride length  and reduces the body's "up and down" movement, using energy efficiently to move forward. 


Content proudly contributed by Ros Johnson of Running Form





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Phil Dutton

Phil Dutton

Yes Emma, Cadence is seen as pretty critical for barefoot style or midfoot/forefoot running, but the evidence really backs up that regardless of how you strike the ground, having too slow a cadence can adversely affect your overall posture and mechanics which can lead to increased tightness, strains and injuries. Patella-femoral pain is very common in runners doing too much, or over-striding. But over striding can also change hip/pelvic position and upper body, and also force the foot to land too laterally (on the outside of the foot) causing issues elsewhere. Form is Key!



Interesting read - just doing a bit of barefoot running after reading a research paper on this and how it affects stride length and PFJ stress

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