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Cadence of 180 steps/min to treat and reduce risk of running injury

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Craig Payne, Dec 10, 2011.

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  9. Freeman

    Freeman Active Member

    1973 when I was doing a physiology of exercise lab at Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia (Land of Evangeline for those interested in Longfellow's works) we did a comparison of heart rates, CO2 ouput compared to stride frequency on treadmill. It was amazing to see the positive effect on heart rate and CO2 output by increasing stride frequency. Aside from the mechanical benefits described above, there is valid rationale for a quicker rather than slower turnover rate. Gravity being a factor both ways. The only way one can take fewer strides while running is going higher which cause higher rate rate, greater CO2 output and more mechanical stress from overcoming gravity.
     
  10. Freeman:

    Unfortunately, it is not that simple. Previous research has clearly shown that there is an optimal stride rate/stride length for a given running velocity for each runner in regards to their metabolic efficiency during running. Peter Cavanagh and Keith Williams (I have done some research with Keith at UC Davis) did the classic paper on this over three decades ago (Cavanagh PR, Williams KR: The effect of stride length variation on oxygen uptake during distance running. Med. Sci. Sports Exercise, 14: 30-35, 1982). They found that runners tend to self-select their stride length/stride frequency to minimize their metabolic rate during running.

    The other thing that annoys me about this "180 steps/minute discussion" is that it does not acknowledge the fact that there may be very different optimal stride rate/stride frequency for an individual depending on the leg length of the runner, dependent on their running velocity, depending on whether the goal is injury reduction, depending on whether the goal is metabolic efficiency or depending on whether the goal is positive conditioning effect. In other words, the optimal stride frequency for one runner may change depending on whether they want to conserve the most energy, they want to avoid injury or they want more to improve their speed of running/racing.

    In summary, this "180 steps/minute" recommendation for running stride frequency that is now circling through the internet is 1) not based on good science, 2) does not take into account body morphology, 3) does not take into account that stride frequency will change depending on running velocity, and, finally 4) is only considering injury rates and not minimizing metabolic economy or training effects. Oversimplifying this complex central-nervous system mediated choice of stride frequency in runners by saying that it's always better to run with shorter strides is simply misleading and, in my opinion, is a disservice to runners and those who treat running-related injuries.
     
  11. Griff

    Griff Moderator

    Hot off the press for you Kevin:

    Full text: http://bio.biologists.org/content/5/1/45
     
  12. Freeman

    Freeman Active Member

    Kevin, I agree it is not simple. The factors you mentioned are significant. 180 steps a min are likely a"rounded off average", I would guess. For each person there is an optimal rate. The assumption may also exist that people's strides from left to right at are equal. I believe that impairments to symmetrical hip flexibility/range are in part responsible for step length and step speed. Pain in hip flexors and hamstrings may affect turnover rate. When I assess runners, I watch, listen and count. I believe that to the untrained runner, they may and unaware that running with a slow turnover rate is less efficient and more injurious than running with a quicker rate. This varies from person to person. For a runner to be "all they could be" it is wise to find out what that rate is for them. In most instances, I would surmise that people run with a slower turnover rate than what is most efficient for them. As one who has coached running and swimming since 1972, I do not believe that people will do what is most efficient for themselves.
     
  13. Freeman, while I agree that swimming technique can definitely be made much better with coaching, I don't agree that experienced runners can't self-select the running stride length/stride frequency that is the most metabolically efficient. This classic research from Peter Cavanagh and Keith Williams does not support your belief that runners can't choose, by themselves, what the most efficient running style is for them.

     
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    Not running, But:

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  28. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

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