Host: Dr. Matt Minard

Episode Summary

Dr. Matt Minard, the owner of Learn 2 Run, is a Physical Therapist who enjoys both the physical and mental benefits of running. He is passionate about helping others run safely.

In this episode, Dr. Minard explains how cadence (aka step rate) can be used as a tool to run effectively. He’ll help you avoid injury and systematically implement it into your runs to achieve better results.

Cadence speeds up your runs and reduces injury

Top Takeaways

  • “It’s widely accepted that increasing your step rate can decrease or lower impact.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard] 
  • “A step doesn’t count until your foot makes contact with the ground.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard] 
  • “For most people, 165 to 175 is that sweet spot.”
    – [Dr. Matt Minard]

Episode Highlights

  • [00:22] Intro
  • [01:47] Today’s topic: How to use cadence to reduce injury risk and increase speed. 
  • [02:08] What is cadence or step rate?
  • [04:27] Why do new runners have a low step rate?
  • [06:51] Reasons why increasing your step rate reduces impact. 
  • [10:43] How do you calculate step rate? 
  • [14:06] How to implement increasing your step rate into running. 
  • [22:43] FAQs on cadence.

Episode Notes

This week, listeners wanted to know more about cadence. So Dr. Minard is focusing on how to use cadence (or step rate) as a tool to reduce injury risk and increase speed. Cadence is a measurement of steps taken per minute. In other words, how frequently you are making contact with the ground.

When running, the gold standard is 180 steps per minute; 90 steps on each foot. New runners often have a low step rate because it can be difficult to adapt from the usual walking rate of between 100 and 120 steps per minute.

Cadence reduces injury

Research has shown increasing step rate lowers the impact of each step on the body. The first reason for this is that increasing your step rate can reduce bounding and overstriding. Bounding is a combination of jumping and running which results in a higher impact on the body every time you land. Jumping is reduced as cadence increases because the body is more likely to stay closer to the ground. The principle also applies to overstriding. To rack up more steps, you will have to bring your legs closer when running. Giant strides result in fewer steps.

How to calculate cadence?

There are 2 ways to calculate your cadence or step rate: technology or manually. Through technology, you can utilize GPS watches and other fitness watches and accessories. To calculate cadence manually, you can set a timer and count, or watch the timer on a treadmill. You’d ideally use 10 seconds and multiply by 6. For 180 steps that should be 30 steps in 10 seconds.


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The first step to implementing cadence in your runs is to download a free metronome app. Set the number to 165 and use it as a guide for 165 steps per minute. It is recommended that you start at 165 steps per minute and then adjust upwards. Also, consider your arm swing which should mirror your step rate. This leads us to the next step, use a mirror to watch your arm swing and practice moving at the rate as the metronome. This offers the opportunity to confirm that the direction of arm movement is forward and back not up and down as seen in bounding. It is important to be able to keep up arm swing with the metronome at 165 steps per minute because difficulty with arm swing at this pace makes it unlikely to be able to run at the same pace.


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How to use cadence to increase speed and reduce injury?

How to increase cadence

Actively learning to incorporate cadence into running can be split into 3 sessions.

  1. Start by doing up to 10-round intervals of running for 30 seconds and walking for 60 seconds while using the metronome. The first session is about syncing with the metronome.
  2. The next session involves mimicking the metronome. Do one round with the metronome and the next without it.
  3. The 3rd session is to validate your ability to run without the metronome. Start without the metronome and check afterward. How closely can you keep up with the metronome without listening to it?

For those who would rather not listen to a metronome, a treadmill timer can be used and the goal is to try to attain 3 steps in one second.

While it is possible to listen to music instead of using a metronome, it must be done consciously. Music may work better for people who dance. There are playlists for different step rates on Spotify.

Cadence Drills: hip flutters, knee flutters, arm swing, heel slide, running man, CaDance. 3hz, 3 reps per second

It is important to note that cadence does not change with speed, it stays around the same number with any speed. Also, all runners do not need to have the same step rate. Cadence is a tool, not a measurement for success. For most people 165 to 175 steps per minute is a good spot, and focus can be shifted to posture.

Keep in mind that this strategy may not work for some runners. There are, however, several other tools available.


Find | Dr. Matt Minard’s LEARN 2 RUN