How treading softly could lead to big gains in running performance

Research suggests that by landing more quietly, it will improve run form

Image credit: Thesecretstudio.net

Failing to hear your surroundings is a persuasive argument to run without music. Not persuasive enough for many, of course, who feel naked without big beats to accompany every stride. According to recent research, however, silence could well result in something sexier than simply safer running – faster run times.

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Professor Xuan Phan and his team compared the biomechanics of 26 male subjects running as normal and when told to make a quieter sound on landing. The researchers showed that peak vertical ground reaction force and loading time was lower when encouraged to run quietly (softly) – high figures for both are precursors to injury – because, in an effort to make no sound, 75% of the subjects shifted from heel striking to midfoot or forefoot landing.

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The benefit? A greater awareness of running gait potentially results in more efficient landing and toe-off, and ultimately improves performance and reduces the chances of injury. [Note: changing technique takes at least six weeks of near daily commitment.]