An easier, quicker way to shorten running stride

Posted on February 28, 2018

(Last Updated On: February 28, 2018)

There are various reasons someone might want to shorten their stride. Trying to land less on your heel and more on the mid-foot is a common one.

Another lesser known benefit of lessening your stride: it can go with more activity from the ankle and foot. Notice the difference:

  • On the left, the calves are quieter. The heels aren’t bouncing off the ground as much.
  • On the right, the ankles are more active. They’re helping push the body forward.

By getting the foot off the ground sooner, you get more calf activity, and typically, a shorter stride.

-> Running is very individual. Not all strides are, or should be, the same. Thus, not everybody feels the same at given speeds. But personally, when I do longer runs at a slower pace, I’m much more likely to get calf soreness than say, if I’m doing some sprints. Which I’ve found to be generally true for my clients as well:

-Longer distance and or smaller stride? Calves (or achilles tendons) are more a concern.

-Shorter distance and or bigger stride? Hamstrings more a concern.

More calf activity can be beneficial in multiple ways:

  1. Getting more muscle to push us forward, particularly if that muscle isn’t as active as we’d like, can help us run faster
    1. A lack of calf activity is an issue for older people, and those recovering from an injury.
  2. Getting a muscle to work more means other muscle(s) don’t work as much

The latter point can be particularly relevant with hip pain from running. If the calves are more active pushing us forward, the hip flexors don’t have to be as active pulling us forward.

-More details: Relieving hip pain while walking / running

However, in the aim of shortening your stride, while thinking about “having some bounce in your step” is fairly easy to handle when walking, it’s not easy to do while running.


A simpler approach to shorten running stride

It can also be hard to cue yourself to “Land more on the mid-foot.” It’s fairly vague, and it can get harder and harder to achieve when you get tired. Which is important. When we get tired is when old habits, and pain, are most likely to appear. You might be able to lessen your stride when you’re going for a light jog, but doing so when you’re huffing and puffing is a different matter.

When it comes to overstriding, we’re most often talking about distance runners. But check out this video of Usain Bolt:

The faster we go, the longer our strides. Here’s Moses Mosop, an elite marathoner.


Clearly, a shorter stride from the marathoner.

But also, less arm swing. Bolt’s pink goes back further, and his yellow goes forward more:

I’ve found a much easier way to get someone to shorten their stride is cue them to “Don’t swing your arms as much.”

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Posted in: Hip Pain, Sports