Technique Adaptations for the Bike
When reviewing common cycling injuries, riding at an excessively high pedal resistance was found as a major cause of overuse problems. Less overuse injuries were reported when using lower gear ratios at a higher cadence. These findings influence current recommendations to avoid patella tendinitis while cycling, for example: Lowering the gears, which will increase the cadence and decrease the stress in the knee area.
Technique Adaptations for the Run
Recent research has suggested that runners who exhibit relatively large impact forces while running are at an increased risk of developing an overuse injury of the lower extremity.
When looking at biomechanical variables associated with injuries in distance runners, increased age was significantly associated with reduced peak knee flexion and increased contact time.
As a negative effect, there is an increasing need for the body to absorb impact as the stride length increases. The energy absorbed during the impact portion of the running cycle increases simultaneously.
Inversely, decreasing stride length has been found to be a potential mechanism of strain reduction during running.
It was found by different research teams that a 10 percent reduction in stride length lowered nearly all lower extremity contact forces. It was concluded that this technique adaptation has significant potential: Reducing stride length decreased the probability of stress fracture by 3 to 6 percent.
To avoid over striding, strive to take the stride rate to the next level. Advance in small increments to allow your anatomical structure time to adjust to the new technique. Ideally, reduce spm by 5 steps per minute, then maintain for a few weeks until all runs are consistently at the new rate. For constant feedback during runs, it is recommended to use a metronome or an app on your phone.
A general goal for female runners over 40 years of age is greater than 160 spm regardless of the pace. The long-term goal is to keep the rate above 170 spm during all runs to prevent possible impact injuries.
Adjustments to bike and run cadence are challenging at first, but they’ll will result in long term benefits.
Lisi Bratcher is the owner of fit.active LLC, a multisport coaching company focusing on Swimming and Sports Nutrition, based in Huntsville, Alabama. Born and raised in Europe, Lisi received a Ph.D. in Exercise Science and from the University of Vienna in Austria. Today you'll find her teaching Exercise Physiology and Health &Physical Education classes at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as coaching intermediate to advanced triathletes. She is a certified ACSM Exercise Physiologist, a certified Track & Field coach, and a USA Triathlon Level I Certified Coach. Find her on Facebook at triHSV or contact her at email@example.com.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.