How Loud Do You Run?
If you’ve read last week’s blog on how running cadence can help you reduce loading and injury risk when you run, you will be familiar with the idea that cadence and ground contact time are very strongly correlated. Longer ground contact time leads to more load through your body. A quicker cadence leads to lower ground contact time and therefore less load.
If you are struggling to modify cadence but feel that your running style could be improved, another method to reduce ground contact time has been shown in a recent research paper. This paper compared the difference between people running with their normal sound and the same people running with this instruction “perform the task as before but this time make a quieter sound when you land”.
What happens when you run quieter?
When running “quieter”, the peak vertical ground reaction force and loading time was lower. They also found that 75% of those running quietly used a non-rearfoot strike compared with 15% running normally. So, the shift to a softer running style led to, or was achieved by, shifting towards and mid or forefoot strike. We have previously looked at the benefits of barefoot running and various types of foot-strike (here and here), and have discussed how a heel-strike loads the knee/hip, and a forefoot strike loads the Achilles. This study would suggest that it may be beneficial for someone with knee/hip pain to try and run quietly as it will a) reduce overall loading, and b) will shift them away from a rear-foot strike which will unload the knee and hip. We should, however, bear in mind that a shift to a forefoot strike would load the calf more and the athlete may need to work on strengthening this area to ensure the change doesn’t lead to injury! The fact that it shifts people away from the rearfoot and causes increased load at the foot/ankle does not necessarily mean it is inappropriate for people with injuries in that part of the body as the overall loading to the legs will be less than before. On its own, running quieter/softer appears to be effective, but will likely be more effective when paired with good warm-up/cool-down and strength/plyometric training habits.
If you decide to give this technique a try, I’d love to hear whether you felt it helped you! Let me know if you have any questions, or need my help!
Phan X, Grisbrook TL, Wernli K, Stearne SM, Davey P, Ng L. Running quietly reduces ground reaction force and vertical loading rate and alters foot strike technique. J Sports Sci. 2016;:1-7.