Running form part 2 of 10: Cadence

Our running form priority list is:
1. Foot strike
2. Cadence
3. Breathing pattern
4. Shoulder position/tension
5. Lean/ Fall
6. Head position
7. Arm position/swing
8. Hip position
9. Hand tension
10. Leg return


(another of the most disputed running topics)

The Basics:

What is Cadence?

Running cadence is quite simply how often your feet hit the ground over a set period of time. It is most commonly measured in the same method music time is: BPM (beats per minute) or SPM (steps per minute). Cadence includes each individual foot strike as a beat or step.


nokkon lightThe Tech:

Why does Cadence matter?

Cadence and your awareness of it, can be a valuable tool in a runners running form arsenal. Adjustments to cadence can make running more efficient and economic, faster, longer, less prone to injury, more sustainable and a lot more enjoyable. This is why we rated it second on our running form priority list. Cadence is applicable to anyone starting out right through to professional athletes. Getting cadence right at the start can help you make greater progression in your running, rather than having to make strong conscious form changes to break old habits later on. Changing your running Cadence can be a breakthrough in progression for runners who feel that they have plateaued.

A great read and a major resource we have used in our research for this blog is the book “Daniel’s Running Formula” which can be purchased here Amazon Store – Daniel’s Running Formula or you can read more about Dr Jack Daniels on his website RUNSMARTPROJECT.COM.
run health
Famous running coach Jack Daniels found that the slower the cadence, the longer you are in the air and the harder you land. this slow turn over can mean more impact, which can cause greater risk of impact injuries.

  • Scientific studies have backed this up, showing that an increased cadence reduces the impact forces of running
  • The peak impact force at a cadence of 176 SPM/BPM being just over half that that of a cadence of 128 SPM/BPM
  • A higher cadence also reduces peak leg deceleration as well as peak impact forces in the ankle and knee joints
  • Higher cadence is also related to a reduction in Overstriding
  • A cadence of around 180 SPM/BPM is also associated with greater running efficiency than lower or higher cadences
  • A higher cadence can reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (fatigue) and the associated weakness.
  • One study showed that as people become tired, their cadence goes up, and with the higher cadence goes lower impact forces. Although a shorter stride/faster cadence results in less landing force, a longer stride length/lower cadence is associated with less of the impact force reaching the head
  • The impact forces at a longer stride length are mostly absorbed by the knee
  • Adding extra weight to the ankles of recreational runners did not change their Cadence or stride length at various speeds. The study showed that Cadence remained nearly constant while stride length increased with speed, with or without weights of up to 1.1 kg/2.4 pounds
  • A review of the scientific studies showed consistently that an increased Cadence reduces shock at the hip, knee, and ankle, vertical oscillation, and ground contact time
  • Barefoot running tends to have a higher cadence

beach run2There are several ways of changing your cadence.

  • To increase your cadence, focus on smaller steps rather than running faster. Initially this will feel strange, but it will become natural with time.
  • A metronome app for a smartphone works. You may want to verify it works on locked screen. A great one is “Pro Metronome
  • You can remix music so that it is at your desired running tempo or if you’re struggling to find suitable music, we’ve found Spotify Running useful
  • Running and Sports watches such as Polar, Garmin, TomTom, can give you Cadence data. Some Garmin models even have an metronome audio option and TomTom has a version that can store music to allow you to listen to your running tracks from your watch
  • Having the correct Arm Position is important for maintaining your cadence. If your arms are too low it will be quite difficult to keep your cadence high and arm swing at your desired cadence
  • Lighter shoes may reduce weight and help in increasing your cadence

The Video: 

nokkon Ambassador feedback:

Chris Melton: “I had no idea what cadence was after 6 months of running. After having it explained to me I adjusted my style to almost shuffle/glide along for long distance running…….Shorter strides and more of them. At first it felt a little counter-intuitive, when I was tiring my head was telling me to lengthen my stride to get to the finish line quicker. But I was just getting more fatigued. I now quite naturally hit a consistent 180 beat without music or metronome. One of things I’ve noticed is my head and shoulders don’t move anywhere near as much at 180 beats. I also find it mentally helpful to have my cadence to single out and concentrate on when the going gets tough. It’s hands down the biggest adjustment Ive made resulting in longer more efficient runs and quicker “less effort” times.”

Stay tuned for our next Running Form blog on Breathing Pattern.



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