Remember, as discussed in the previous blog, overstriding is a type of irregular running form that can potentially cause pain and loss of training time! Correcting these issues can lead to a more comfortable and confident running stride as well as prevent unnecessary fatigue during your runs. How can you stop overstriding?
Ways to Stop Overstriding
There are many ways to stop overstriding. The most effective solutions include: increasing your cadence, improving your hamstring strength, and practicing running drills, including uphill running. Being mindful of the amount of cushion in your shoes can also be very helpful for some runners who struggle with overstriding.
Increasing Running Cadence
Running cadence is defined as the total number of steps you take per minute. Beginner and recreational runners usually adopt a slower cadence naturally, which increases the amount of time each foot is in contact with the ground. Increasing your running tempo results in less contact time between your feet and the ground and brings your initial contact under the center of gravity.
Listening to music with a faster beat or using a metronome can help you gradually increase running cadence. Research suggests an ideal cadence is around 180 steps per minute, though many elite runners possess cadences up to 200 steps per minute. It is recommended to increase your cadence no more than 5-10% at a time. It can take months to adjust to a new running cadence, so be patient and stick with it!
Improve Hamstring Strength
Many recreational runners are quad dominant. This means the main muscle group in the front of the thighs (the quadriceps) tend to provide more force during running than the muscles in the back of the thighs (the hamstrings).
Decreased hamstring strength can contribute to a low cadence as it is hard to move the legs when there is a muscle imbalance between the front and back of the legs. This limits the overall efficiency of the running stride and, inevitably, the end result is overstriding.
Specific exercises that target the hamstring muscles in ways that simulate how the muscle is worked when running can be helpful in improving hamstring strength. These exercises and more will be discussed in future blogs.
Perform Running Drills
Performing running drills can help you improve your coordination and sequencing when running. Practicing A-skips can be really helpful. An A-skip is essentially an exaggerated “run,” where you lift your hips and knees higher than you normally would.
You should focus on making sure when you bring your foot back down, your initial contact is under your center of gravity (hips) with your glutes and hamstring engaged. Once you are able to maintain this muscle engagement more automatically, progressing to plyometric activities, like hops and jumps, is recommended to continue to work on your balance and coordination.
It is nearly impossible to overstride while running uphill. When you run uphill, you are fighting against gravity rather than working with it. By training your body uphill, you build muscle memory and remind yourself that placing your feet in line with your hips is ideal.
You don’t necessarily have to make all of your run uphill. Rather, set aside at least 10 percent of your run for uphill work. Try increasing this number as your body becomes comfortable to this type of training.
Your feet will be comfortable running with an improper stride when your sneakers are too cushioned. By reducing the amount of cushioning in your sneakers, overstriding will be discouraged naturally. Your feet will thank you because you’ll be less prone to injuries!
Need a Hand? Stop Overstriding Today
If you think you’ve been overstriding, especially if you are experiencing pain, physical therapy can be a helpful tool. With corrective exercises and strengthening techniques, your running form can improve. Physical therapy can help you retrain your muscles and teach you new ways to use your body. This way, you won’t have to deal with pesky pains from overstriding in the future. If you’re ready to stop overstriding and have video motion analysis performed to determine your problem areas with running, schedule an appointment today!
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- Novacheck, Tom F. The Biomechanics of Running. Gait & Posture. 1998;7(1):77-95. doi:10.1016/s0966-6362(97)00038-6.
- Heiderscheit, Bryan C., et al. Effects of Step Rate Manipulation on Joint Mechanics during Running. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43(2): 296 – 302. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e3181ebedf4.