Last week saw the release of a cutting edge new App to help runners optimise their gait re-training. Research has indicated that increasing step rate may help to reduce load in a number of areas where running injury is common. Runcadence, from Seattle based Physical Therapist and Triathlon Coach Christopher Johnson, is a simple, effective tool to help with these cadence changes. Follow Chris on Twitter via @chrisjohnsonPT and check out his excellent Youtube channel.
Runcadence performs a simple assessment to helps users determine their unique cadence in addition to having a metronome for retraining purposes. Based on the assessment it automatically calculates increases in step rate values of 5%, 7.5% and 10% consistent with the body of literature on this topic.
It works on the iWatch as well as the iPhone. What also makes it unique is that it allows the user to set their target cadence and in the event the runner falls out of the desired range, a metronome will automatically kick in and remain active until the user re-adopts the desired step rate.
The metronome works as an 'external cue', we focus on the beat and run in time with it. Step rate increases and as long as our speed remains constant our stride length reduces. This reduction in stride length helps to reduce load on the hip, knee and shin (Heiderscheit et al. 2011, Hobara et al. 2012). Recent evidence suggests it may also reduce peak load on the achilles (Lyght et al. 2016) and plantar fascia (Wellenkotter et al. 2014). For a nice overview of the literature on the influence of step rate and stride length on running biomechanics see Schubert et al. (2014).
I tested Runcadence this week and I have to say I was impressed. It feels like it's been designed by runners. The metronome is responsive but not excessively so. You can slow to cross a road, or as I did on my run, dodge a stray toddler and the metronome wont kick in. If your cadence remains low for some time though the beat will start and remain on until you hit your target step rate.
One important point to consider is that we want speed to remain constant for the step rate change to alter stride length. At present the app doesn't monitor speed (I'm told the developers are already working on this!) so it may work best alongside a GPS watch or an alternative method of maintaining a set pace.
As with all Apps and products mentioned on RunningPhysio we receive no sponsorship or financial reward for these posts. They are simply to make runners and health professionals aware of the tools and technology available to us.