Cadence Running Definition and Why a High Cadence is Better

Many runners have a real problem with preventing injury partly because their foot is landing with too much impact during running. There is a strong association between running cadence and injury and the best way to avoid injury is to increase your running cadence to reduce impact.

In running, cadence is the number of times your feet step on the ground whereby a high running cadence means your feet steps on the ground more than if you ran with a lower cadence. Although, a higher running cadence may seem like more work, but it is the opposite in that a higher running cadence is one of the defining, proven interventions that help runners avoid injury, especially, if you land on your forefoot first. So, what can you do to increase your cadence rate to support safer running?

Cadence Running Definition

Cadence Running Definition and Why a High Cadence is Better

Land with a Forefoot Strike, But More Importantly, Bend Your Knees

Your knee and foot strike mechanics during running influences cadence (the number of times your feet step on the ground). For example, focusing on bending your knees and landing on your forefoot puts you on the right track to increase your cadence and reduce impact and injury risk.

According to research, in order to produce a successful increase in running cadence, the knee of the landing foot must be bent (flexed –as shown below), which shortens stride length, allowing the landing foot to land closer to the body, which in turn, promotes a higher turnover (i.e. high cadence) (Romonav, 2004; Nelson & Gregor, 1976).

Cadence Running Definition

Ensuring both knees are kept softly bent helps you put forth a better approach to increase your running cadence which really gives you a mechanical safety boost to help you dodge high impact landings.


Nelson RC, Gregor RJ. Biomechanics of distance running: A longitudinal study. Res
Q. 1976;47(3):417-428.

Romanov N. Dr. Nicholas Romanov’s pose method of running. 1st ed. ; 2004.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

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P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!