Forefoot running has an impressive record for helping prevent common running injuries like runners knee and shin splints pain. But if you’re a forefoot runner and shin splints is still a looming problem, one mechanical importance is a higher cadence, also referred to as step-rate, or step frequency, and its something you want to aim for vs a lower cadence.
Relevant facts supporting the relation of increased running cadence and less shock attenuation on the shins comes from a long line of biomechanical research, specifically from a 2011 and a 2016 study in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Collectively, these studies revealed that increased running cadence and a shorter stride length actually go hand in hand as this dynamic-duo was most directly responsible for reducing peak tibial (shin) contact forces. By this measure, upping your run cadence can have a big effect in making forefoot striking more protective on your shins.
Furthermore, the researchers detailed that a shorter stride length during running automatically allowed the rear-foot (back of the foot) to land closer to the center of mass (the upper body) and at the same time, this particular landing assembly of the foot relative to the upper body, significantly reduced peak ground reaction forces on the lower leg, making running dramatically less distressing on the shins.
If you need help with increasing your run cadence, running to the beep of a metronome offers great benefits in doing so. Here’s a popular metronome for running – https://amzn.to/2l876qs
Heiderscheit BC, Chumanov ES, Michalski MP, Wille CM, Ryan MB. Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during
running. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(2):296–302.
Luedke et al. Influence of Step Rate on Shin Injury and Anterior Knee Pain in High School Runners. Med Sci Sports Exer, 2016; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000890
BTW, if you’re curious as to why I’m running barefoot on pavement, you can find out more here on my YouTube channel where I talk, at great lengths, about the research showing a clear relation between running barefoot on harder surfaces and less impact production.
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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.