The perfect running stride varies from person to person. It will depend on the length of your legs and how you prefer to run. Most people run in cushioned running shoes that tend to create a heel-striking motion, while others prefer a minimalist barefoot-style shoe that encourages a forefoot strike. When a runner improves their stride, they are likely to see an improvement in energy efficiency and overall speed. So how do you find the perfect running stride?
What is a running stride?
When you run, the largest distance between the toes on your front foot and the toes on your back foot is the length of your stride. In other words, it’s measured at the full extension of your stride. Although many novice runners believe it’s better to have longer strides, the opposite is generally true. When you force your legs to take long strides the muscles and ligaments can become overstretched, and undue pressure can be put on the hip and knee joints. It’s better to take smaller strides as they will be more powerful while being less jarring on joints.
The best running stride
The technique used to achieve the best running stride may vary slightly depending on whether you’re a minimalist or maximalist shoe wearer, but the general principle is the same. Try to keep your foot strike under your body weight. This is the best place to disperse the energy generated from your foot strike without straining your joints. Don’t force your foot out in front when you want to increase your speed – instead, increase your step turnover.
Step turnover and stride
Expert runners typically have a stride turnover of around 180 steps per minute. Amateur and casual runners move more slowly at around 150-170 steps per minute. If you want to know where you’re at, count the times your left foot hits the ground as you run for 30 seconds. Double that figure to calculate your stride rate per minute. You can decide if you want to increase it or not. Note that runners who have lower stride rates than around 150 per minute can find themselves more prone to injury (typically related to over-striding).
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.