Step More, Not Far – The Dangers of Overstriding

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When the goal is running faster and farther (as it is for many of us), we tend to fall into a nasty habit of controlling speed by increasing our stride length rather than increasing our step count. It is one of the most commonly seen form faux-pas for runners, and it’s also one of the most common causes of injury. Yikes! So what defines overstriding?

Overstriding is when your foot comes into contact with the ground in front of your center of mass (or your pelvis). Another way coaches describe it is when your tibia (lower leg bone) comes in contact with the ground at an obtuse angle — rather than perpendicular to the ground, as it should be. The ideal is to always land with your foot directly under your body and not in front.

Related: How Should My Foot Land When Running

Check out this video of Meb Keflezighi from the 2010 Boston Marathon. Notice how his stride length is of an incredible distance, but each time his foot hits the ground, his legs are at a near 90-degree angle and his pelvis, as with the rest of his body, is directly above his foot.


The Danger

When you’re running, each step you take is already loaded with tremendous force from your body-weight and the speed at which you are coming in contact with the ground. This is amplified in all of the wrong places when you over stride, as all of that impact is transferred at an angle through your foot which loads the hip and knee and puts your body at high risk of injury.

In 2011, Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit, a now famous expert on overstriding, showed in his study that overstriding is tied to a high bounce value, which is another term for vertical displacement. The longer the stride on each step, the higher you have to jump in the air, which results in excessive vertical movement of your body while you run and a harder impact as you hit the ground. Not only is excessive bounce another common cause of injury, it’s also an inefficient way to run as you waste your energy moving up and down rather than smoothly forward.

The Solution

It’s apparent that there is mounting evidence against overstriding, and now the question is: how do I avoid it?

The quick and dirty answer to that is to increase your cadence — otherwise known as steps per minute. But coaches and experts alike caution against sudden and drastic changes to your running form, as this could result in far worse injuries than the form you are trying to correct.

If you know you are an over-strider, try slowly increasing your cadence by five to ten percent of your preferred cadence at a time. A study by Cavanagh and Williams (1982) found that most runners select a cadence and stride length combination that reduces their metabolic cost (a measure of energy and how tired you feel). Suddenly increasing your cadence over the recommended ten percent requires a large metabolic cost and tires you out a lot quicker – which makes it difficult to run in good form.

Lumo Run provides coaching cues both during and after your run to help you increase your cadence to reduce bounce, braking and help you improve your stride length. Here’s an example coaching cue that Lumo Run may give you when it senses overstriding.

Imagine you are running through a puddle and you are trying to make as little splash as possible. This will help you quicken your steps, reduce ground impact and shorten your stride.

The Lumo Run coaching model uses easy to understand, simple coaching cues used by real running coaches and experts in the field to help you run in your best form.

Improve your running form to decrease your risk of injury with Lumo Run

Lumo Run is a wearable sensor that clips onto the back of your shorts that measures, analyzes and coaches you on your running form. The Lumo Run app provides insights into your running form during and after each run, coaching you to become a better, more efficient runner to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. **Shipping soon!**

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Ellie Kulick

About Ellie Kulick

Ellie specializes in all things content and communications at Lumo BodyTech. Her passions are in tech, writing and in health. She loves to create and share content that is useful and easily digested by the reader. BS in Psychology, Northeastern University. Find Ellie on Twitter.

1 Comment

  • Faith La Riviere
    Faith La Riviere

    I am curious whether this over-striding and subsequent injury is possible in competitive ballroom dancing.

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