What is Your Perfect Stride Length? It's Not What You Think

Updated: Apr 14

If we're honest with ourselves, running form can get…a little overcomplicated.

We hear about cadence, and stride length, and stride intervals and stride-to-stride variability between fatigued and non-fatigued states and…

Deep breathe.

Spoiler: Even as a movement professional, it gets a little overwhelming.

But what's on most runner's mind's is this:

How do I find this perfect stride so I don't over-stride and get injured? "

It's a fantastic question!

And the evidence has an answer, but it's not the one you expect.

You ready to dive in?

What is stride length and why does it matter

It's best to start with basics.

Stride length is simply how long is your running step.

And to avoid overstriding, you typically look for it to be equal on both sides and for your leading leg to land within your base of support.

(see? Things are already getting….nebulous).

Basically, you want that leading leg to "catch" you instead of reaching out in front of you. You want to fall from your stance leg onto your leading leg rather than trying to pull the ground towards you.

Hang in there with me, this gets much better.

What impacts or changes your stride length?

Age, height, history of injury, fatigue levels, and your brain.

(you didn't see that last one, did you? But it's true)

Wait, so how does mine brain controls my stride length?

Think of it this way…

muscles + brain and nerves = neuromuscular system

Being able to control this neuromuscular system = neuromotor control

Having neuromotor control means you can pick up a glass of water and drink from it.

Or in our case as runners, means you can go for a run. (Still having a hard time with this? Consider Kara Goucher's recent news.)

What does this mean for you?

Some of aspects that impact stride length you can control; some, not so much.

You can't really control your age or your past history of injury.

Your weight you can control up to a certain point, but it doesn't change rapidly.

But something you're going to encounter every run and that will change with every step: fatigue levels and it's impact on neuromotor control.

What does this have to do with stride length?

I'm so glad you asked.

*Enter our recent research article*