The Dangers of Overstriding—and How to Stop It
Want to run healthy forever? Start here.
It is well-known that 65-75 percent of runners experience an injury every year (1). This makes running a highly injurious sport, causing researchers to look into what factors lead runners to injury.
The list of risk factors is extensive but near the top is overstriding. Running stride is the distance from where your foot hits the ground back to an invisible line down from your center of mass (anatomically, this is the fifth segment of the lumbar spine).
Once this line passes a certain length, we consider it overstriding. Overstriding has been shown to increase stress on the body. Some people have enough strength to absorb the increased stress but many do not. Even with enough strength, it is not efficient to run accepting more mechanical load (stress) than is necessary to produce forward momentum.
But wait—it gets worse. The longer the stride, the greater amount of vertical displacement. This means the further out you stride, the higher you jump in the air and, therefore, the harder you land on the ground. Increased vertical displacement is another top risk factor in running injuries.
Further, overstriding leads to a straighter knee and a more aggressive heel strike which significantly reduces the knee muscles’ ability to absorb shock. The shock is then transferred to the knee menisci, knee joint and on to the hip and back joints.