The optimal stride length when running

The optimal stride length when running

Biomechanical measurements and video analyses, special strength training, and coordination exercises – in competitive sports, runners and their trainers are always looking for the optimal stride length to run even faster. But a study shows that none of this is necessary. Why? Because the stride length that a runner instinctively chooses is precisely the right one.

How important is the stride length really?

There is an infinite number of books about running. And each of these books is also about stride length and how you can optimize it. Some recommend special strength training, others running ABC. But is all this really necessary? No, says a study from the University of Nevada. So here is the most essential information: 

  • No matter if you are a newcomer or an Olympic participant. The stride length that you choose instinctively and with which you feel most comfortable is the best.
  • Trying to run with longer steps does not make you faster.

A changed length leads to a loss of performance

The scientists took a close look at 33 runners. 19 of them were experienced and long-time runners. 14 were newcomers. They had to run several times at intervals of 20 minutes. Sometimes with shorter, sometimes with longer than their usual or instinctively chosen length of stride. The whole thing was possible with the help of a loudly beeping metronome. The oxygen uptake during the exercise was then measured. Result:

  • The attempt to lengthen and shorten the steps led to significant performance losses.
  • The oxygen consumption went up and the runners reached the anaerobic zone faster.

But runners should still do strength training

Please do not misinterpret it. Regular strength training is still important for runners. Not to influence the length of the strides, but to become generally better. Strength training also protects runners from back pain.

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