Want To Run Faster? You May Want To Change Your Stride

Posted on: 9 December 2014

Many weekend warriors hit the treadmills and park paths every week, hopeful that they will improve their times and distance. Unfortunately, many of these runners find that each week brings the same exact results despite their best intentions for improvement.

If you're a runner who wants to run faster, you may need to analyze and adjust your stride as the first step towards improving your speed.

Do you land on your heels?

Running shoes have been made with significant cushioning in their heels since the 1980s. While this may have increased the comfort level of the casual jogger and the non-athlete who wears running shoes while out and about, this has also led to an increased number of runners landing on their heels with each step. Landing on your heel might feel comfortable for a short time, but it can actually lead to chronic problems such as knee pain, heel spurs, and ankle sprains.

To reduce the probability of these problems, land on your mid- or fore-foot instead of your heel. It may seem like you're tip-toeing when you first try running this way, but using this type of stride is actually more efficient because it helps your muscles get ready to bounce up and out of each step. In contrast, landing on your heel places too much pressure on your joints and causes your momentum to pause with each step, slowing you down.

Do you overpronate?

Overpronation is when your foot twists inward as you walk or run. This inward motion places extra stress on your big toe and second toe and prevents the arch of your foot from absorbing some of the pressure caused by the weight of your body. As a result, you can end up with painful inflammation and plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, tendonitis, or bunions.

Many people with flat feet overpronate to compensate for their diminished arches, especially when they run or walk quickly. If you think that you fit in this category, consult with a foot specialist to see if you can get fitted for custom orthotics. These orthotics can be perfectly molded to fit your feet to create an artificial arch that better supports your body weight while you run. In turn, this support can help you get more lift and experience less discomfort with each stride, quite literally lifting your feet and making it easier to run faster.

Do you take long strides?

You might have an image in your head of an elite runner taking massively long strides, but in reality, the fastest runners actually take relatively short strides. Experts have found that elite runners take between 180 and 200 strides per minute, and this high frequency helps their feet fly through the air while experiencing a limited amount of pressure with each step.

To improve your running times, count how many strides you take in a minute and then try to increase that number by 2 or 3% each week. By the end of a few months, you'll find that you're taking significantly more strides per minute. These short steps will help you move faster and more efficiently.

Even the most casual of runners can make a significant improvement in running times, as long as strategic steps are taken to improve speed. Landing on your mid- or fore-foot, addressing any overpronation issues, and increasing your strides can all help you run faster. To learn more, contact a company such as Northern Care Inc Orthotics & Prosthetics for more help to know what will best work for you.