A recent study cited in Competitor Magazine, talked about common stride “improvements” actually may reduce running economy. They looked at stride rate (cadence) and vertical displacement. One would think, with all the hoopla out there, that more steps per minute and less vertical displacement would be more efficient. The actual study concluded “Alterations led to an increase in metabolic cost in most cases, measured as VO2 uptake per minute and kg body mass,” Another study which had similar results can be found here.
Even though the study had a small sample size (16 participants), If you think about this, it makes sense. Volitional effort usually has a metabolic cost. It does not make it right or wrong; they are just the facts. The nervous system will take time to integrate new (motor) patterns. Each person has a optimal (homestatic) stride “style” which includes vertical displacement as well as stride length, among other factors (lateral sway, ankle dorsi pantar flexion, knee flexion, thigh flexion, etc).
The study itself also concluded ““Mid- and long-term effects of altering … technique should also be studied.” we concur, we have not seen any long term studies that look at economy over time, but would love to read them if any of our readers run across them.
The Gait Guys. Bringing you the facts without the bling.