Knee Pain with Running
Knee pain is a common complaint among runners, particularly those who log a lot of miles. While there are many potential causes of knee pain, one strategy that has been shown to be effective to help with that pain is increasing your cadence. Cadence refers to the number of steps taken per minute while running. Increasing cadence has been shown to reduce the impact forces on the knee joint, leading to less pain and sometimes better performance as a side bonus. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of increasing cadence and provide some tips for incorporating this strategy into your training routine.
How Cadence Can Affect Running
Typical cadence for experienced runners can be from 170-190 steps per minute, while less experienced runners can be as low as 150, or sometimes even lower. Running with fewer steps per minute ends up with increased impact through your leg each step and decreased efficiency with your run.
The first benefit of increasing cadence is that it can reduce the stress on the knee joint. When you take shorter, quicker steps, you land with less force on each step. This means that there is less impact on the knee joint on each step which can help you increase your mileage without knee pain.
Another benefit of increasing cadence is that it can improve running efficiency. When you take shorter, quicker steps, you spend less time in contact with the ground on each step. This means that you spend less energy pushing off the ground and more energy moving forward. This can help to improve your speed and endurance, allowing you to run farther and faster with less effort.
How to Change Your Running Cadence
To incorporate cadence training into your routine, start by determining your current cadence. This can be done by counting the number of steps you take in one minute while running or by using one of several apps that are available.. Once you have your baseline cadence, aim to increase it by 5-10% over the course of several weeks. This can be done gradually by increasing your step rate by a few beats per minute each week. To maintain proper form, make sure that you are not overstriding or landing on your heels. Instead, focus on taking quick, light steps that land softly on the midfoot or forefoot.
There are a number of ways to increase your cadence. Again, using one of a few apps that are available on your phone is an easy way to objectively measure and increase your steps. You can also search songs by beats per minute and have a playlist that you can use to have a goal for the number of steps you take.
Other Steps to Help Knee Pain with Running
It is also important to note that increasing cadence alone may not be enough to alleviate knee pain. It is important to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your pain, such as muscle imbalances, weakness, or poor flexibility. A physical therapist can help to identify these issues and provide targeted exercises to address them.
Strengthening the muscles around the knee, such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, can help to improve stability and reduce stress on the joint. Foam rolling and stretching can also help to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension. Incorporating cross-training activities, such as cycling or swimming, can help to reduce the impact on the knee joint and promote overall fitness.
In conclusion, increasing cadence can be an effective strategy for reducing knee pain and improving running efficiency. By taking shorter, quicker steps, you can reduce the impact on the knee joint and promote a more efficient running gait. It is important to gradually increase cadence and maintain proper form to avoid injury. In addition to increasing cadence, incorporating other strategies such as strength training and getting professional advice can help you run pain free for years!