Any great course or lecture needs to have a few “take home” messages that stick with you. I had the pleasure of taking a course this weekend that dealt specifically with running. Here are some pearls that I picked up…
1. Cadence is a measure of how many steps a runner takes per minute. For example, Elite level runners have a cadence that approaches one hundred eighty (180) steps per minute. That is very fast. If you want to count your own cadence, take a thirty-second sample of your running, count every time the right foot touches the ground, and multiply by four.
2. A faster cadence will typically lead to shorter steps. In many cases, shorter steps are good things as this may change the way in which the foot makes contact with the ground. We are more able to make initial ground contact with the mid-foot or the forefoot when our steps are shorter.
3. Many people who have problematic knee pain from running find relief when their running style is changed to a mid-foot or forefoot initial contact. (Another words, making initial contact with the heel can equate to a harder impact.)
4. If you want to change your cadence, do it gradually. The body does not like to change movement patterns abruptly.
5. Certain shoes are designed to work best with a mid-foot or a forefoot initial strike. These types of shoes would include the “less supportive” types (Vibrams, the Nike minimal support shoes, etc.). It therefore makes sense that these less supportive shoes are not very good at absorbing shock through the heel.
6. If you are going to stay with a “heel contact first” running style, you might want to try a more stable shoe that absorbs shock well.
7. If you find all of this confusing, you should probably have your running style evaluated by a physical therapist.
Image credits: Top © Maridav/Fotolia; Second © Rafał Olechowski/Fotolia.