Marathon Series with Tom Hamilton – Cadence

Published: 30 Apr 2023

Marathon Series with Tom Hamilton – Cadence

As a physiotherapist, one thing I always look out for in my patients is their running cadence. Why? Because it can impact your running efficiency and reduce the risk of injury. So, let’s dive into this topic and find out more about how your cadence can make a difference.

Longer strides aren’t necessarily better

First things first, let’s bust a common myth. Many runners believe that taking longer strides will make them faster, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, it can lead to overstriding, which is a leading cause of injury. Overstriding means landing on your heel with a straight leg, which can put a lot of pressure on your joints and muscles, leading to injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures.

A faster cadence can help you run better

Now, here’s the good news. A higher running cadence can help you maintain good running form, make running feel easier, and reduce the stress on your joints and muscles. Research suggests that a faster cadence can also reduce the risk of injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, and stress fractures.

Cadence refers to the rhythm, tempo, or pace of a movement or activity, particularly in music or speech. In the context of running, cadence refers to the number of steps taken per minute.

What is the optimal running cadence?

The optimal running cadence is generally considered to be between 170-180 steps per minute. However, this can vary slightly depending on factors like your height, stride length, and running speed. You can check your cadence by counting the number of times one foot hits the ground in a minute, then doubling it.

How to improve your running cadence?

If you find that your cadence is lower than the optimal range, don’t worry. There are ways to improve it. One simple technique is to run to the beat of a metronome. You can find metronome apps that will help you set your cadence to the optimal range. Another way to improve your cadence is to focus on taking shorter, quicker steps. You can also work on your core strength and flexibility, which can help you maintain good running form.


So there you have it. Your running cadence is an essential aspect of your running form that can impact your performance and reduce the risk of injury. Remember, longer strides aren’t necessarily better, and a faster cadence can help you run better. Aim for a cadence between 170-180 steps per minute and try to improve it if it’s lower than that. And as always, if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort while running, don’t hesitate to reach out to a physiotherapist. Happy running!