Overstriding in running is surprisingly common. When most of us envision perfect running form, we often mistakenly believe that the longer the stride – the better and faster the runner.
However, overstriding when running can have some pretty serious effects on your running. Running with an overstride not only has the potential to slow you down, but it can lead to some minor and even major injuries down the road.
What is overstriding in running?
Simply put, overstriding in running is when the front leg extends too far forward. The step size is too large, causing the foot to land too far in front of the body with each step.
Most runners don’t even realize that they are overstriding until it is too late. A consistent overstride can lead to a variety of issues – such as muscle imbalances, shin splints, and even strains or tears.
Learning to recognize whether or not you are overstriding is key to quickly and effectively adjusting your stride. The longer a runner goes without realizing that they have an overstride, the harder it will be to break the habit.
3 Signs You’re Overstriding When Running
- Shin bone (of front foot) is angled backwards during initial contact
- Large distance between front foot and center of pelvis during initial contact
- Your cadence is slower than 170 bpm
One of the most common issues runners come across when trying to identify whether or not they overstride, is being able to actually see what their running form looks like. Unfortunately, it is often easier to evaluate other runners than it is yourself.
In order to determine whether or not you are overstriding when running, you’ll need to be very intentional and self-aware during a run. Pay close attention to your form at all times.
If you’re struggling to evaluate while running, another option is to take a few pictures or videos of yourself running. You’ll be able to observe your running form much more effectively when looking at it after the fact.
4 Causes of an Overstride
Before trying to eliminate the problem, it’s important to understand why overstriding occurs in the first place. Most runners overstride unconsciously, and continue to do so for so long that it becomes a habit.
Here are some of the most common causes of overstriding in running.
- Slow cadence
- Low hip mobility/lack of hip extension
- Heel striking
- Backward or upright lean
Many runners fall into these habits without even realizing it. While this may make correcting the problem a bit more challenging at the start, fixing an overstride is certainly still possible.
How to Fix Running Overstriding
Once you have determined that you are overstriding when running, you’ll need to set aside some time to focus on going back to the basics. Plan a few weeks of easy runs to allow yourself time to focus on smaller details of your form.
Most runners find that these changes feel quite strange and unnatural in the beginning, but after just a few days of consistent work they begin to get easier to sustain. Here are some simple adjustments and strategies to fix running overstriding.
Increase running cadence
One of the most common causes of overstriding is a slow running cadence. If you take the time to work on your cadence, the overstride will likely fix itself. Aim for an ideal running cadence of 180 bpm.
Try setting a metronome to 180 while running on the treadmill at your normal, easy pace for a week or two. Focus on striking with each click of the metronome. Before you know it, this will become a natural cadence even without the metronome.
Aim for a midfoot landing
Another adjustment to consider making to fix overstriding is to aim for a midfoot landing. Heel striking and overstriding go hand and hand, so taking the time to fix your foot strike could positively impact your stride as well.
Aim to land on the ball of your foot – not the toes, but rather, somewhere in between. Focus on maintaining a quick cadence to help stay consistent with a healthy foot strike.
Increase forward lean
Perhaps one of the simplest adjustments to make is the trunk lean. However, though it might feel simple at first, holding it consistently is key to success. Aim to lean forward even so slightly when running to help fix overstriding.
Avoid any sort of backward lean, and be sure to angle forward slightly at the hips – not by hunching your shoulders or chest.
Improve hip mobility and flexibility
Prioritizing hip mobility and flexibility exercises during training can help set you up for success when it comes to fixing an overstride.
Adding in a few simple hip flexor stretches, along with mobility exercises like these once or twice a week might be all it takes to fix overstriding.
Implement glute activation and strengthening
A few more exercises you might consider adding to your regular training routine are glute activation and strengthening exercises. Strong, active glutes can help keep the stride strong and consistent during long runs and hard workouts.
Try completing these glute activation and strengthening exercises once or twice each week.
Try barefoot strides
After a run, find a grassy space to complete a few barefoot strides. These quick, sprint-like efforts will help your body find its natural rhythm as well as improve strength for the run.
Add hill intervals
Uphill sprints and intervals are a great way to build strength in the glutes, hamstrings and quads – all of which play a key role in maintaining proper form even when fatigued.
Try adding hill workouts to your training routine on a regular basis to keep your lower body strong and well-balanced.
Warm up with skips
Skips are a great warm up for runners of all kinds – but especially those hoping to fix overstriding. When skipping as a dynamic warm up, focus on driving the knee up as high as possible and lifting the toe in the air.
As your leg descends, you will drive your foot towards the ground, landing at your natural center of gravity. These drills will help this type of landing begin to feel more natural to hopefully feel easier to incorporate when on the run.
See a specialist
If you’re suffering from injuries that you believe may be due to overstriding, or simply have been unable to fix the problem on your own, it might be time to see a specialist.
Overstriding in running can lead to a surprising number of issues after time. Luckily, though, fixing it usually requires just a bit of patience and a few weeks of effort. Noticing that you are overstriding and determining why it is happening is the first step towards fixing the problem.
After just a bit of consistency, you might be surprised how much more you can accomplish with a healthy stride length. The possibilities are endless!