Are you running right? Doctor's recommendation

Bridge the Gap with Your New Favorite App

If you’re a runner, by now it’s safe to assume that you have read about cadence training or that someone has advised you to “increase your cadence.” So why are so many runners still getting injured? Let’s review.

Running is considered a part of the human experience, so most people do what feels natural without giving it too much thought. At Zion Physical Therapy, we perform many a running analysis and see the majority of runners and athletes utilizing a long stride, landing with the foot in front of the body, including myself. So what’s the problem with that? Biomechanically speaking, landing on your foot out in front of your body is analogous to applying the brakes on a moving car. The ground reaction forces push up and back and there is a deceleration moment as the weight transfers over the foot. Further, the increased air time and vertical forces equates to greater impact on the joints as you come into contact with the ground.

May the Force(s) Be With You

Cadence refers to how many steps you take in a minute. Research has shown that having a higher cadence correlates to a reduction in injuries. How? It forces you to adopt better running form. With your feet hitting the ground more quickly, your stride has to shorten, and you’re more likely to land with your foot underneath your body, closer to your center of mass. It also forces better posture which means that your trunk is more upright and your body is better able to use the glutes, the oft-­overlooked power driver in running.

Cadence training improves performance as well. Now that the body is moving with more efficiency (forward momentum only, no brakes applied), less energy is required. With increased foot turnover, speed tends to increase and you can run longer distances with improved economy.

Take the Thought out of the Cadence Equation

Watching slow motion videos, it is easy to show runners the before and after to prove that cadence training really works. So what gets lost in the matrix? For me, counting my footsteps was a chore and focusing on cadence detracted from my enjoyment of running. I couldn’t bridge the gap between knowing it, and applying it. Enter my saving grace, Spring Moves. Spring Moves is an app that calculates cadence for you, and you can gradually raise it over time to encourage better running form. Select your favorite music artists and voila. All you have to do next is run to the beat. And don’t worry, it still tracks your mileage. Rhythm based movement ­ for me it was obvious because I had been a dancer my whole life.

But then I learned that it was true for everyone and research could show it­ people perceive less exertion when they are moving to the rhythm of music. Now running is less work on the mind, and on the body. It’s a win, win. And it’s the most fun you’ll ever have breaking a bad habit.

Meghan Mizrachi, Doctor of Physical Therapy at Zion Physical Therapy