As we run, our body is propelled forward. This needs to happen as efficiently as possible. A major contributor is the landing position of the foot relative to the hip.
What’s overstriding and how is it caused?
If the foot lands too far in front, it can reduce the knee’s ability to absorb the shock from landing. This can produce a braking effect rather than maintaining forward momentum. The continued movement pattern further generates a consistent sheering force through the knee on each foot strike. This can also be described as overstriding, which can lead to potential injuries that ultimately impacts our development as a runner.
How can you correct this if you do overstride?
Below, are several examples of ways that can help to improve stride length and educate the body to run correctly:
1) Improve hamstring strength: It’s not uncommon for runners to become quad dominant. A lack of hamstring strength can lead to a low cadence as it becomes hard to turn the legs over due to a much stronger frontal chain. This upsets the antagonistic relationship between the quads and hamstrings, which limits the overall efficiency of the running stride and, inevitably, lead us to overstride. Exercises that target hamstrings specifically, such as single-leg Romanian dead lift or eccentric hamstring curls, will help bridge the strength gap with the quads.
2) Include co-ordination drills and motor skills: Being strong is essential to having a robust body and staying injury-free. Running drills and gym-based exercises that exaggerate running form and test stability as part of the movement, will be ideal to include into your S&C run programme. This will help cement the strength developed by providing a neural feedback loop that ensures our muscles are more responsive to the demands of running.
3) Improve your landing mechanics: Learning how to land correctly can help us stay injury-free. Knowing where to distribute our weight when we land will ensure we don’t overload our muscles and joints. To help improve this, include variations of plyometric exercises and landing drills into your training. This will increase the proprioceptive intuitiveness and educate the body on how to land correctly when running.
Nick Beer is a sports injury rehab specialist, a development coach and a former elite triathlete.