Step frequency and lower extremity loading during running

Int J Sports Med. 2012 Apr;33(4):310-3. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1291232. Epub 2012 Mar 1.


The purpose of the present study was to ascertain whether increase in step frequency at a given velocity during running reduces the lower extremity loading variables, which is associated with tibial stress fracture in runner. We hypothesized that the lower extremity loading variables at a given speed would be minimized at around +15% f step. 10 male subjects were asked to run at 2.5 m/s on a treadmill-mounted force platform. 5 step frequencies were controlled using a metronome: the preferred, below preferred (-15 and -30%) and above preferred (+15 and +30%). From the vertical ground reaction force, we measured following lower extremity loading variables; vertical impact peak (VIP), vertical instantaneous loading rate (VILR) and vertical average loading rate (VALR). We found that there were significant differences in lower extremity loading variables among 5 step frequency conditions. Furthermore, quadratic regression analyses revealed that the minimum loading variable frequencies were 17.25, 17.55, and 18.07% of preferred step frequency for VIP, VILR and VIAR, respectively. Thus, adopting a step frequency greater than one's preferred may be practical in reducing the risk of developing a tibial stress fracture by decreasing lower extremity loading variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Fractures, Stress / prevention & control*
  • Gait*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Running / injuries*
  • Running / physiology
  • Tibial Fractures / prevention & control*
  • Weight-Bearing