Does step frequency as a single factor affect running economy?
A systematic review
Keywords:Running, Biomechanics, Running economy, Step frequency, Cadence
Is step frequency (SF) related to running economy and how? This is the main question we have tried to answer in this study. It is a well-known biomechanical variable used in scientific and practical analysis of running technique. A systematic review was carried out to analyse available literature of the field. Scopus, Web of Science and ScienceDirect databases were used for article search. In total 249 articles matched defined queries and after exclusion, 12 were used in the review. After analysis of the review, our hypothesis remained unconfirmed. In some cases, step frequency affected the running economy, while in others it did not have a direct impact on it. It might be that SF cannot be considered in isolation from other biomechanical characteristics and it cannot be analysed as a universal criterion for improving running technique and economy.
Abolins, V., Nesenbergs, K., and Bernans, E. (2019). Reliability of loading rate in gait analysis. In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, volume 575, page 012002. IOP Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/575/1/012002
Barnes, K. R. and Kilding, A. E. (2015). Running economy: measurement, norms, and deter- mining factors. Sports medicine-open, 1(1):1-15. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-015-0007-y
Barnes, K. R., Mcguigan, M. R., and Kilding, A. E. (2014). Lower-body determinants of run- ning economy in male and female distance runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(5):1289-1297. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000267
Billat, V., Mille-Hamard, L., Petit, B., and Koralsztein, J. (1999). The role of cadence on the v ̇ o2 slow component in cycling and running in triathletes. International journal of sports medicine, 20(07):429-437. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-1999-8825
Bonacci, J., Saunders, P. U., Hicks, A., Rantalainen, T., Vicenzino, B. G. T., and Spratford, W. (2013). Running in a minimalist and lightweight shoe is not the same as running barefoot: a biomechanical study. British journal of sports medicine, 47(6):387-392. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2012-091837
Borowski-Beszta, M. and Polasik, M. (2020). Wearable devices: new quality in sports and finance. Journal of Physical Education and Sport, 20:1077-1084.
Brisswalter, J., Legros, P., and Durand, M. (1996). Running economy, preferred step length correlated to body dimensions in elite middle distance runners. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 36(1):7-15.
Cavanagh, P. R. and Williams, K. R. (1982). The effect of stride length variation on oxygen uptake during distance running. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 14(1):30-35. https://doi.org/10.1249/00005768-198214010-00006
Concejero, J. S., Dom ́ınguez, C. G., Astiazaran, J. I., de Letona, I. B. L., Lili, J. Z., Tam, N., and Orozko, S. G. (2014). Influence of the biomechanical variables of the gait cycle in running economy. RICYDE. Revista Internacional de Ciencias del Deporte, 10(36):95-108. https://doi.org/10.5232/ricyde2014.03601
Connick, M. J. and Li, F.-X. (2014). Changes in timing of muscle contractions and running economy with altered stride pattern during running. Gait & posture, 39(1):634-637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2013.07.112
De Ruiter, C. J., Van Daal, S., and Van Die ̈en, J. H. (2020). Individual optimal step frequency during outdoor running. European journal of sport science, 20(2):182-190. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2019.1626911
De Ruiter, C. J., Verdijk, P. W., Werker, W., Zuidema, M. J., and de Haan, A. (2014). Stride frequency in relation to oxygen consumption in experienced and novice runners. European Journal of Sport Science, 14(3):251-258. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2013.783627
De Wit, B., De Clercq, D., and Aerts, P. (2000). Biomechanical analysis of the stance phase during barefoot and shod running. Journal of biomechanics, 33(3):269-278. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-9290(99)00192-X
Dewolf, A., Mesquita, R., and De Jaeger, D. (2022). The effects of an increased step frequency on running economy and injury risk factors during downhill running. Science & Sports, 37(5-6):446-453. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scispo.2021.07.010
Divert, C., Mornieux, G., Baur, H., Mayer, F., and Belli, A. (2005). Mechanical comparison of barefoot and shod running. International journal of sports medicine, 26(07):593-598. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2004-821327
Folland, J. P., Allen, S. J., Black, M. I., Handsaker, J. C., and Forrester, S. E. (2017). Running technique is an important component of running economy and performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 49(7):1412. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0000000000001245
Foster, C. and Lucia, A. (2007). Running economy. Sports medicine, 37(4):316-319. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737040-00011
Gil-Calvo, M., Herrero-Marco, J., de Jes ́us Gonz ́alez-Pe ̃na, R., Perez-Soriano, P., and Priego- Quesada, J. I. (2020). Acute effect of induced asymmetrical running technique on foot skin temperature. Journal of Thermal Biology, 91:102613. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtherbio.2020.102613
Gomez-Molina, J., Ogueta-Alday, A., Camara, J., Stickley, C., and Garcia-Lopez, J. (2018). Effect of 8 weeks of concurrent plyometric and running training on spatiotemporal and physiological variables of novice runners. European Journal of Sport Science, 18(2):162- 169. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2017.1404133
Hafer, J. F., Brown, A. M., DeMille, P., Hillstrom, H. J., and Garber, C. E. (2015). The effect of a cadence retraining protocol on running biomechanics and efficiency: a pilot study. Journal of sports sciences, 33(7):724-731. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2014.962573
Halvorsen, K., Eriksson, M., and Gullstrand, L. (2012). Acute effects of reducing vertical dis- placement and step frequency on running economy. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 26(8):2065-2070. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318239f87f
Hanson, N., Berg, K., Deka, P., Meendering, J., and Ryan, C. (2011). Oxygen cost of running barefoot vs. running shod. International journal of sports medicine, 32(06):401-406. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0030-1265203
Hay, J. G. (2002). Cycle rate, length, and speed of progression in human locomotion. Journal of applied Biomechanics, 18(3):257-270. https://doi.org/10.1123/jab.18.3.257
Heiderscheit, B. C., Chumanov, E. S., Michalski, M. P., Wille, C. M., and Ryan, M. B. (2011). Effects of step rate manipulation on joint mechanics during running. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 43(2):296. https://doi.org/10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ebedf4
Hunter, I. and Smith, G. A. (2007). Preferred and optimal stride frequency, stiffness and economy: changes with fatigue during a 1-h high-intensity run. European journal of applied physiology, 100(6):653-661. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-007-0456-1
Hunter, J. P., Marshall, R. N., and McNair, P. J. (2004). Interaction of step length and step rate during sprint running. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 36(2):261-271. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.MSS.0000113664.15777.53
Kaneko, M., Matsumoto, M., Ito, A., and Fuchimoto, T. (1987). Optimum step frequency in constant speed running. Biomechanics XB, 6:803-807.
Lieberman, D. E., Warrener, A. G., Wang, J., and Castillo, E. R. (2015). Effects of stride frequency and foot position at landing on braking force, hip torque, impact peak force and the metabolic cost of running in humans. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218(21):3406- 3414. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.125500
Lim, B., Burrus, B. M., Ortega, J. D., and Kwon, Y. S. (2020). The effect of stride frequency on running performance at the speed of vo 2 max. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 23(6).
Mercer, J., Dolgan, J., Griffin, J., and Bestwick, A. (2008). The physiological importance of preffered stride frequency during running at different speeds. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 11(3).
Metcalf, C. D., Irvine, T. A., Sims, J. L., Wang, Y. L., Su, A. W., and Norris, D. O. (2014). Complex hand dexterity: a review of biomechanical methods for measuring musical perfor- mance. Frontiers in psychology, 5:414. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00414
Moore, I. S. (2016). Is there an economical running technique? a review of modifiable biome- chanical factors affecting running economy. Sports medicine, 46(6):793-807. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0474-4
Oks, A., Katashev, A., Bernans, E., and Abolins, V. (2017). A comparison of the accuracy of the smart sock system to force platform and optical system for measurement of temporal parameters of locomotion. In IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, volume 254, page 072017. IOP Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/254/7/072017
Pate, R., Sparling, P., Wilson, G., Cureton, K., and Miller, B. (1987). Cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses to submaximal and maximal exercise in elite women distance runners. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 8(S 2):S91-S95. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2008-1025712
Quinn, T. J., Dempsey, S. L., LaRoche, D. P., Mackenzie, A. M., and Cook, S. B. (2021). Step frequency training improves running economy in well-trained female runners. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 35(9):2511-2517. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003206
Rodgers, M. M., Pai, V. M., and Conroy, R. S. (2014). Recent advances in wearable sensors for health monitoring. IEEE Sensors Journal, 15(6):3119-3126. https://doi.org/10.1109/JSEN.2014.2357257
Rowlands, A., Stone, M. R., and Eston, R. G. (2007). Influence of speed and step frequency during walking and running on motion sensor output. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 39(4):716. https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e318031126c
Santos-Concejero, J., Granados, C., Irazusta, J., Bidaurrazaga-Letona, I., Zabala-Lili, J., Tam, N., and Gil, S. (2013). Differences in ground contact time explain the less efficient running economy in north african runners. Biology of sport, 30(3):181-187. https://doi.org/10.5604/20831862.1059170
Santos-Concejero, J., Oliv ́an, J., Mat ́e-Mu ̃noz, J. L., Muniesa, C., Montil, M., Tucker, R., and Lucia, A. (2015). Gait-cycle characteristics and running economy in elite eritrean and european runners. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 10(3):381- 387. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2014-0179
Santos-Concejero, J., Tam, N., Coetzee, D., Oliv ́an, J., Noakes, T., and Tucker, R. (2017). Are gait characteristics and ground reaction forces related to energy cost of running in elite kenyan runners? Journal of sports sciences, 35(6):531-538.
Santos-Concejero, J., Tam, N., Granados, C., Irazusta, J., Bidaurrazaga-Letona, I., Zabala- Lili, J., and Gil, S. (2014). Interaction effects of stride angle and strike pattern on running economy. International journal of sports medicine, 35(13):1118-1123. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0034-1372640
Snyder, K. L. and Farley, C. T. (2011). Energetically optimal stride frequency in running: the effects of incline and decline. Journal of Experimental Biology, 214(12):2089-2095. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.053157
Tartaruga, M. P., Brisswalter, J., Peyr ́e-Tartaruga, L. A., ́Avila, A. O. V., Alberton, C. L., Coertjens, M., Cadore, E. L., Tiggemann, C. L., Silva, E. M., and Kruel, L. F. M. (2012). The relationship between running economy and biomechanical variables in distance runners. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 83(3):367-375. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701367.2012.10599870
Vernillo, G., Doucende, G., Cassirame, J., and Mourot, L. (2019). Energetically optimal stride frequency is maintained with fatigue in trained ultramarathon runners. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 22(9):1054-1058. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2019.04.003
Williams, K. R. and Cavanagh, P. R. (1987). Relationship between distance running mechanics, running economy, and performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 63(3):1236-1245. 12. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1918.104.22.1686
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2018 University of Alicante
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Each author warrants that his or her submission to the Work is original and that he or she has full power to enter into this agreement. Neither this Work nor a similar work has been published elsewhere in any language nor shall be submitted for publication elsewhere while under consideration by JHSE. Each author also accepts that the JHSE will not be held legally responsible for any claims of compensation.
Authors wishing to include figures or text passages that have already been published elsewhere are required to obtain permission from the copyright holder(s) and to include evidence that such permission has been granted when submitting their papers. Any material received without such evidence will be assumed to originate from the authors.
Please include at the end of the acknowledgements a declaration that the experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed. The editors reserve the right to reject manuscripts that do not comply with the abovementioned requirements. The author(s) will be held responsible for false statements or failure to fulfill the above-mentioned requirements.
This title is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).
You are free to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format. The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms under the following terms:
Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.
You do not have to comply with the license for elements of the material in the public domain or where your use is permitted by an applicable exception or limitation.
No warranties are given. The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. For example, other rights such as publicity, privacy, or moral rights may limit how you use the material.
Transfer of Copyright
In consideration of JHSE’s publication of the Work, the authors hereby transfer, assign, and otherwise convey all copyright ownership worldwide, in all languages, and in all forms of media now or hereafter known, including electronic media such as CD-ROM, Internet, and Intranet, to JHSE. If JHSE should decide for any reason not to publish an author’s submission to the Work, JHSE shall give prompt notice of its decision to the corresponding author, this agreement shall terminate, and neither the author nor JHSE shall be under any further liability or obligation.
Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (e.g., consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc.) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article, except as disclosed on a separate attachment. All funding sources supporting the Work and all institutional or corporate affiliations of the authors are acknowledged in a footnote in the Work.
Each author certifies that his or her institution has approved the protocol for any investigation involving humans or animals and that all experimentation was conducted in conformity with ethical and humane principles of research.
Biomedical journals typically require authors and reviewers to declare if they have any competing interests with regard to their research.
JHSE require authors to agree to Copyright Notice as part of the submission process.