The Consequences of Overstriding
You have may have heard it spoken about, with peers or on our blogs, but let’s get into some detail. What is overstriding? And why is it bad for your body?
Overstriding is when the foot and leg land significantly in front of your centre of mass (in this case the belly button). This causes a number of biomechanical issues which lead to inefficiencies and risks of injury throughout the body. Today we will look at the specifics, and the best thing is – they are all fixable.
- Breaking Forces
- Load Attenuation
- Time on your Feet
A biomechanically sound runner will land on a heel or midfoot as close to underneath their centre of gravity or mass as possible. What can go wrong when you start overstriding and extending that stride length.
As soon as you creep in front of your body, you increase stride length and apply what is called a braking force. Yes, you guessed it, this is the opposite of what we are looking for and breaking in this case is the enemy of speed. Once you are in front of your body, muscles have to work harder to push that body up and over that foot before you can push the floor away and drive forward. This is opposed to a landing underneath the body where you can start the hip extension and pushing phase straight away. This is inefficient and will slow your pace significantly. A further consequence will be the optimisation of your leg cycle and cadence. As soon as you overstride, you lengthen the stride and cannot maximise your strides per minute, which is vital for a great runner.
Imagine now, that you are looking at a video of an overstrider from the frontal plane (side view). As the leg lands, you may see two things. One – a very straight landing leg, two – the angle from the landing point of the heel to the ground level is significant. If the leg is straight and rigid on landing, the jarring force is increased, as the muscles that take load are lengthened and possess less strength. Compound that with the foot angle, and you have forces of up to 6x your bodyweight going directly into the bone, and up the leg through your joints. We need the knee to be slightly soft, quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves engaged, assisting with that load attenuation and translating the momentum of your run into force production. Without this, you put extreme shearing forces through your Achilles tendon, patella tendon, shin, knee, hip and lower back. It can cause injury anywhere up the chain.
Time on your Feet
We have spoken about having to drive up and over your foot if it lands in front of you, the fact that it lengthens stride, and increases your cadence. This all combines to increase your ground contact time. I don’t want to sound like a broken record but I will – the more time spent on the ground, the more stress on your body and soft tissues. Unnecessary stress on soft tissues over a significant about of time will lead to injuries. Some that may be minor and an easy fix, all the way up to stress fractures, in the foot, shin or lower back – which are injuries I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy!
I am so sorry that it sounds this bad, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Overstriding is fixable, and a priority at Running Logic. Causes of overstriding could be as simple as increasing leg cycle speed, removing restrictions at the hips so that you stand taller, or learning running techniques. After all, running is a movement skill, and to get it right consistently takes some practice. We can help, a biomechanical analysis will tell you instantly if and how much you overstride. Better yet it gives you a reference point to track your progress in performance and biomechanical efficiency. Check it out today!
- Overstriding applies braking forces on the body – this is bad!
- The body is not designed to take force when fully extended. Attenuate load properly with good running technique.
- These biomechanical issues combined with increased time on your feet can lead to significant injuries.
- Running technique training and drills WILL fix this and make you a great performer!