In running when our foot strikes the ground (at initial contact), it should be closer to the body’s Center of Mass (COM). The point of foot strike affects how the Ground Reaction Force (GRF) is distributed through the body, and how we minimize the impact on our joints and muscles.
What is Overstriding?
When foot lands in front of us and the shin is angled too much forward, this is known as Overstriding. The wider the shin angle, greater the distance between the body’s Centre of Mass and the point of foot strike, causing more impact on joints and muscles. Overstriding reduces running efficiency and increases stress to the shin, knee, hip and lower back.
Good Stride vs. Overstriding
Why is Overstriding bad?
Impact forces are much higher on tibia, ankle, knee and hip joints when we land. Farther the foot strike from the COM, produces more torque (Torque = Force x Distance) on joints.
More stress on joints leads to injuries such as tibial stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS/Runner’s knee) and other joint injuries.
Overstriding also increases braking force, which affects the running performance. The excessive braking force also causes Achilles injuries.
Overstriding can be a result of either a physical limitation in the runner’s body or a technical fault like low cadence.
Some of the common causes are:
Limited hip extension (tight hip flexors) leading to excessive anterior pelvic tilt. Excessive anterior pelvic tilt forces runners to use overstepping as a way to get the big stride
Weak hamstrings or glutes limits the knee drive, causing the runner to depend on shins to reach forward
Reduced forward lean also forces runners to reach forward by extending the shin forward. Reduced forward lean is often due to lack of strength in hip and trunk extensors
Runners with lower cadence often reach forward with shin and strike the ground much ahead of COM
How to identify Overstriding?
The following are some of the possible indicators that a runner can measure themselves to know if they are overstriding
Very low cadence (<165) even at faster paces
Excessive rear foot/heal strike
Beyond these, the best way is to get running gait analyzed (shin & foot inclination angles and knee flexion angle) and measuring parameters such as vertical, braking force at initial contact and longer ground contact times.
How to prevent Overstriding?
Increasing cadence: This is an effective method to reduce overstriding. Quick turnover of legs helps the foot to land closer to the COM. Increased cadence reduces vertical and braking forces, and load on the joints.
Better hip extension of rear leg: This requires adequate flexibility in the hip flexors, and also better engagement of glutes, so runners can extend hip and knee fully and achieve a longer push off. A longer push-off puts us in a better position to get a good stride, without resorting to overstriding.
Higher knee drive in the front leg: Good forward knee drive patterns require sufficient strength throughout the hips to drive the knees higher and in a linear path. This will also set the leg and foot up for an ideal foot strike position.
Use these cues while running: Follow these cues while running to avoid overstriding - ‘get feet off ground quickly’, ‘run on ice’, and ‘high knees and low ankles’.
Aditi Pandya is an avid runner, a writer and a fitness enthusiast. She is second runners up at Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2019, Vadodara International Marathon 2020 in Women half-marathon open & veteran categories respectively. She blogs atNarrativesByMe.comand can be reached on Instanarrativesbyme.