MYTH: Every runner should have a cadence of 180.
[Cadence is how many steps you take each minute]
This number came from an observational study of elite distance runners during the 1984 Olympics in which most of them had a cadence higher than 180. Since then, it’s been assumed that every recreational runner should also shoot for a cadence of at least 180...
TRUTH: EVERY RUNNER IS DIFFERENT!!!
There is no magic number that has been scientifically proven that every runner needs to hit in order to reach optimal running form because every runner is different! Automatically trying to run with a cadence of 180 may cause more harm than good as your body responds to even the most subtle changes.
While yes, most elite runners have demonstrated higher cadence, one of the most valuable pieces of information that was collected is the wide range of variability that exists between each runner.
Should I change my cadence?
The reasons behind making a change would be a current running injury, history of repetitive injury or a plateau in your running performance. There have been several studies that demonstrate that an increase of just 5–10% in habitual step rate for most runners can influence the foot to land closer towards the body’s center of mass, which in turn, can decrease the braking impulse and ground reactive force placed through the knee and hip. So, calculating your cadence and increasing it by only 5% increments may be sufficient enough to make changes to optimize your individual running gait without leading to compensations. For example, an experienced runner who overstrides and has a history of anterior knee pain with a cadence of 150, may benefit from an increase in step rate.
The Big Take-Away:
If looking to change your cadence, increase by small increments of 5% at a time with the consistent use of a metronome for several weeks to allow motor learning to take place and your body to adjust to this change. And remember, it’s always best to have your biomechanics evaluated by a PT with a specialty in running to devise a course of action specifically tailored to your needs!
MYTH: Forefoot striking is good. Heel striking is bad.
[This is referring to which part of your foot touches the ground after each stride while running.]
TRUTH: EVERY RUNNER IS DIFFERENT!!!
Every runner has their own blueprint for their running biomechanics. A certain foot strike does not necessarily equate to injury or mean you are committing abnormal running patterns. Over-striding, cross-over and medial collapse are examples of running biomechanics that DO place you more at risk for injury and are characteristics that can be seen in BOTH heel strikers and forefoot strikers. So, for instance, just because you are a heel striker, does not automatically mean you are over-striding.
Running places a demand on our bodies and depending on what kind of foot strike you have determines where that demand is placed. Here are some facts about what’s happening when your foot hits the ground...
Where more energy is absorbed:
Where more joint loading occurs:
What shoes may provide more benefit:
“Mid-foot Strikers” – Within most research, mid-foot strikers are lumped with heel strikers due to the belief that their landing patterns are too inconsistent to be considered their own category and that they have more in common with heel strikers than to forefoot strikers. But, they do have a reduction in peak impact loading compared to heel strikers.
The Big Take-Away: Every runner has their own running style. If you are experiencing a current injury, a repetitive injury or have plateaued in your running performance, seek out help from a running specialist physical therapist to figure out what YOUR individual running biomechanics look like and if changes can be made to help you improve YOUR PERSONAL running technique! Changes to your biomechanics take time and patience to allow motor learning to take place and can cause injury if done too quickly or without proper preparation and instruction!
MYTH: Make sure to stretch before you run.
[Static stretching is where you bring a muscle or muscle group to its end-range position and hold it there for a specific amount of time.]
TRUTH: Make sure to stretch AFTER you run!
Research has shown that a warm-up with static stretching causes a decrease in muscular strength and impaired performance in running and jumping activities. [“stretch-induced strength loss” occurs.] While on the other hand, performing dynamic activities have been shown to improve power and running performance.
...which is why we want to perform dynamic activities BEFORE we run and static stretching AFTERWARDS!
It’s been shown time and time again that static stretching improves range of motion. New research and theories have been evolving that the short-term improvements in range of motion may be due to modifications in sensation and an increase in tolerance to the stretch rather than actual muscle lengthening. Interesting right!?
MYTH: Missing a workout is detrimental to your training plan.
TRUTH: If you miss a workout, shake it off and move on!
Runners usually attempt to make up a run they missed or combine workouts the next day because of a missed workout the day before. Instead, what you should do if you miss one day is let that day go, take it as a rest day and pick up where you left off with your training program the next day.
Please note that if you miss a week or two, that’s a different story! You may need to re-structure your program because jumping back where you left off may place you at risk for injury.
The Big Take-Away: If you miss a day, don’t worry about it! Pick up where you left off the next day. But if you miss a week? You need to re-evaluate your plan so as to not increase your risk of injury.
MYTH: Running causes knee osteoarthritis.
[Osteoarthritis [OA] is the wearing down of the cartilage between two bones.]
TRUTH: Research has demonstrated that there is NO direct relationship between running and knee osteoarthritis!
Even though some runners may be dealing with knee OA, research has found that there is no reason to believe that the OA developed or has progressed due to a persons running habits. There was even one study that showed that several runners who ran 1000 marathons had no presence of knee OA!!!