Cadence: It is a Big Deal

Knee pain, “shin splints”, and stress fractures are one of the most common running injuries. Below is a typical conversation that I have with a runner at 3D Wellness with one of these problems:

Me: “What do you know about cadence?”

Runner: “It’s the number of steps that you take in a minute.” (Sometimes even adding “It should be somewhere around 180 steps per minute”)

Me: Do you know what YOUR cadence typically is?

Runner: “No, but I know it is supposed to be around 180” OR “Yes, it somewhere around (insert number significantly <180)”

Me: Is it something you have worked on before?

Runner: “No” OR “Yes, I took a running form class that talked about it, but I did not really focus on it.”

The reason why I took the time to give you a glimpse into a patient interaction is because runners often DO know about cadence, but the importance has not been stressed enough. What if I told you that over half of patients that come in with knee pain or previous stress reactions had their problems completely if not mostly resolved by simply increasing their cadence? What if I told you that if you just increase your cadence by 5% that you will reduce the impact through your lower leg by 20%? Yes! That’s right. A 5% increase gives you 20% less stress!! Would you put more emphasis into training with a higher cadence? Most would say a resounding, “YES!”

If you are a runner that wants to avoid knee pain or a stress reaction,  be proactive and start working on that cadence! Here are the steps:

  1. Find out where you are starting. What is your current cadence?
  2. Add 5%. Download a metronome app or check out the RunCadence app.  Hit the ground softly with every beat and aim for a rate 5% greater than your baseline.  It should feel weird and make your lungs work a little harder at first.
  3. When it stops feeling weird, add another 5% until you land comfortably somewhere around 180 steps per minute.


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