Have you ever experienced pain or strains while running? Say, in your knees, ankles, foot, hips or back?
Or, are you trying to increase your miles to meet personal goals for a longer race?
In either case, cadence—the measure of steps per minute—comes into play.
MossRehab physical therapist Ali Ladak, who works at the MossRehab Center City location, shares his expertise from working with runners to help you use proper cadence to avoid injury … and make you a more efficient runner.
“Try this easy assessment to see if you can increase your efficiency and safety,” says Ladak. “Do your feet land far in front of you? This may indicate that you are over-striding, which can increase the forces through your body leading to greater chance of injury and requiring increased energy to run. If so, it’s time to think about adjusting your cadence.”
According to Ladak, typical running cadence is 150-200 per minute, with the magic number often said to be 180.
“Yet, this one-size-fits-all target number may not work for you as an individual,” says Ladak.
“Increasing your current cadence (if you are not already achieving the 170-180 range) by 5 percent can reduce the force at your knee by 20 percent as well as reduce the possibility of injury. Additionally, this adjustment can help you conserve energy to perform better. “
Here are five easy ways you can measure your current cadence, make adjustments to find your cadence sweet spot and achieve your running goals. (The following brands listed are not endorsements, just examples.)
- Wearables: (fitness trackers/GPS running watches) that monitor cadence for you and some can even coach you to increase and maintain your goal cadence (Garmin, Moov Now)
- Running specific apps that measure cadence: Similar to wearables, they can assist with real time feedback at a fraction of the cost (Run Cadence and Cadence Trainer)
- Music apps that customize beats: A great way to integrate your love for music while increasing your efficiency. The apps work by picking songs to utilize the beat to maintain your cadence (Music motion, Rock my Run, Spotify Running)
- Metronomes: Simple (and sometimes free!) will provide constant rhythmic tones that you can slowly increase to your optimal cadence. You can use the app to match the metronome with your running to assess your current cadence. (Run Tempo, Metro Timer) Or, go old school and simply count how many steps you take with one leg for 30 seconds, multiply by 2 to include steps from your other leg, and multiply by 2 once more to calculate total steps for one full minute.
- Run like you are in a box: A simple, no-tech way to cut down the length of your stride is to simply imagine running in a confined space to help reduce your over-stride.