Do you run with a wide or narrow stride width? Try straddling a line whilst you’re running and notice where your feet land in relation to the line. With a narrow stride width, a runner will ‘tightrope’ run or in the extreme have a cross-over gait.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) and shin splints are common and painful injuries. They often occur when runners increase their training volume or intensity too much in preparation for an event. If you struggle with these injuries it may help to try running with a slightly wider stride width. Research studies have shown that when running with a narrow stride width the leg angles inwards and this increases the strain on the ITB and stress in the tibia. This can increase the risk of these injuries.
Running with a wider stride width is particularly important if you want to run fast. A narrow stride width reduces speed and power due to less hip abduction and reduced glute recruitment. If you imagine a powerful sprinter driving out of the blocks they often run noticeably ‘wide’ bounding side to side. It generates power.
Exercises for a wider stride width
- Run for 6x 30s straddling a line and focus on feeling the glutes activate
- Do 3 sets of 15 squats but focus on pressing down with the outer edge of the foot and cork screwing the feet into the floor outwards (without the feet moving) – feel the side hips and glutes all the way through the squat
- Try squats with a resistance band tensioned around the ankles and take care to avoid the knees rolling inwards – drive the knee out to tension the band
- Sit into a squat position with a resistance band tensioned around the ankles – perform a sideways ‘crab walk’ and maintain the tension in the band. Alternate the leading leg.
Note: remember to introduce changes gradually to allow the body to adjust and expect a little muscle soreness in muscles you may not have been using so much.