The Use of Music to Assist with Setting Running Cadence

Cadence has become a buzz word in the world of running and here is why.  According to researchers increasing cadence (steps per minute) can decrease the following factors:  ground reaction forces, shock attenuation, energy absorption at the hip, knee and ankle, as well as vertical excursion of the body.  A decrease in these factors could lead to a decrease in injury.  If a runner was to run at the same speed, but just increase cadence this would logically lead to a decrease in stride length.  Therefore more steps per minute. 

Research has clearly noted a decrease in destructive forces at your joints with an increase in cadence.  One study concluded that increasing cadence by 10% reduced forces at the front of the knee by 17%!  Further research needs to be done to draw a direct conclusion not just to a decrease in forces, but also to a decrease in injury occurrence.  Even so, if you are struggling with a running injury, why not try changing your cadence?

Figuring out your cadence:  Count the number of right leg foot strikes that occur in one minute of running and multiply by 2.  This is your cadence! 

If you want to experiment with changing your cadence this author would recommend incremental changes anywhere from 3%-10%.  One of the research studies by Van Dyke et al did a huge amount of work for us and lists a couple of pages of songs complete with tempo or beats per minute.  (see pages 4-6 in the link).  Download a couple of songs with the cadences you would like to try and simply run to the tempo of the music.

If you try this we would love to know about your experience.  Please feel free to comment on our Facebook page!

bodyMechanics:  Runners who love working with runners!



Lenhart RL, Thelen DG, Wille CM et al.  Increasing Running Step Rate Reduces Patellofemoral Joint Forces.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(3):557–564.

Schubert AG, Kempf J, Heidersheit BC.  Influence of stride frequency and length on running mechanics: a systematic review.  Sports Health.  2014:6(3);210-7.

Van Dyck E, Moens B, Buhmann J, et al.  Spontaneous Entrainment of Running Cadence to Music Tempo.  Sports Med Open. 2015; 1(1): 15.

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