When we want to increase running speed two things must happen. First we must increase our stride rate. This is simply increasing the number of strides we take over a given amount of time. The second is we need to increase our stride angle. Stride angle is a measure at our hips made up of our front and back legs. Both of these elements do not come naturally to most people. If one or both can’t be done a common compensation is overstriding.
What does overstriding look like? In an attempt to cover more ground a runner will reach the front leg out in front of them. When this happens the knee is often fully extended as the foot hits the ground lessening shock absorption. Instead, this increases impact forces through the knee, hip, and spinal joints. This is also considered a braking force which doesn’t allow our body to capture elastic energy to be used for forward propulsion. Simply stated, this can also affect performance.
If we learn to run with our foot landing closer under our hip, we can expect less injury risk due to lower impact forces and improved running economy. However, in order to do so we must focus on any weak links which can include improving your stride rate, or improving your stride angle, or maybe both.
Our stride angle will most often be limited due lack of hip mobility. Particularly, hip flexion (bringing the leg forward) and hip extension (bringing the leg backward). Our hip is the fulcrum in which forward propulsion takes place. We need muscular strength to drive that propulsion. For this reason, lack of strength may also limit our stride angle.
Stride rate is something that can be improved through practice and repetition. Read more on improving stride rate here.Social tagging: hip > knee > run