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Mastering Your Stride: How to Identify and Overcome Overstriding in Running

What is overstriding?

Overstriding is when the foot lands in front of the body & the shin is angled too much forward. The wider the shin angle, the greater the distance between the body’s Center of Mass (COM) & the point of foot strike. Imagine watching a runner from the side; if their leading foot hits the ground well in front of their hip or body, that's overstriding. It's like each step is reaching too far forward, breaking the smooth rhythm of a run. This causes more impact on joints & muscles.

Overstriding reduces running efficiency & increases stress to the shin, knee, hip & lower back.

Common causes of Overstriding

* Limited hip extension (tight hip flexors) leading to excessive to anterior pelvic tilt. This forces the runner to use overstriding as a way to get a bigger stride.

* Weak glute or hamstring muscles limits the knee drive, causing the runner to depend on shins to reach forward.

* "Too Tall Posture" also forces runners to reach forward by extending the shin forward. The "too tall posture" is often due to lack of strength in hip & trunk extensors.

* Runners with lower cadence often reach forward with shin & strike the ground much ahead of COM.


The Impact of Overstriding

  1. Reduced Efficiency: Overstriding can make running more labor-intensive. It's akin to putting the brakes on with each step, as the foot lands ahead of your momentum, creating a backward force. This means more energy spent on less forward movement.

  2. Increased Injury Risk: The impact force with each overextended stride is significantly higher, which can lead to injuries. Common issues include shin splints, runner’s knee, and stress fractures. This is particularly crucial for runners training for long distances like marathons.

  3. Altered Kinematics: Overstriding changes the natural mechanics of running. It can lead to an improper gait, affecting everything from your foot's strike pattern to hip alignment. Over time, this can cause a range of musculoskeletal problems.

How to Correct Overstriding

  1. Increase Cadence: Focus on taking quicker, shorter steps. This doesn't mean running faster, but rather than pulling with the legs - use your glutes to push back and move you forward.

  2. Gait Analysis: As an exercise physiologist (aka Me!), you know the value of a professional gait analysis. It can pinpoint specific biomechanics & muscles imbalance issues contributing to overstriding.

  3. Strength and Mobility Work: Strengthening the core, hips, and legs can improve overall running form. Mobility exercises, especially for the hips and ankles, can also be beneficial.

  4. Mindful Running: Be aware of their body and stride. Sometimes, simply being conscious of not reaching too far forward with the foot can make a significant difference. Think "Running on Ice".


Did you find something to work on?

Do not be discouraged! You likely were never taught how to run!

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