Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Most Efficient Way to Run (According To Science)

I came across a recently published (6/3/24) systematic review on what is the most efficient way to run, according to science (Van Hooren et al, 2024). 51 studies were reviewed in this systematic review.

It's a long review paper, key findings in the pictures attached. Let me highlight some of the important points. The paper does lend some support for increasing your cadence or step rate to improve running economy as this increases leg stiffness and reduces vertical oscillation. When you watch some runners run, you can see that they tend to 'bounce' up and down while running, that is vertical oscillation. 

Initial Contact
At Initial Contact (or foot flat) phase, higher cadence (step rate) may be associated with a lower energy cost of running. Decreased trunk flexion and knee flexion during swing phase may also be associated with better running economy.

Mid stance 

During Mid Stance phase, decreased trunk flexion and reduced vertical oscillation may be associated with improved running economy. Increased vertical and leg stiffness may also be associated with lower energy cost.

Toe off

At the Toe Off phase, if trunk flexion and ankle plantarflexion are reduced, running economy may be improved.

Those metioned above are just he key findings which I have summarised. However, there are many more details and applications in the paper itself. You can read the free paper here.

I have previously written before on running cadence and running form if you wish to read further.


Van Hooren B, Jukic I, Cox M et al (2024). The Relationship Betwen Running Biomechanics And Runnng Economy : A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Observational Studies. Sports Med. DOI: 10.1007/s40279-024-01997-3


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