The Step frequency is an important parameter for optimal running. Change can affect performance and economics.
The step frequency is the measure of the number of steps per unit of time when walking or running.
The step frequency is the measure of the number of steps per unit of time when walking or running. Usually it is displayed in minutes. It depends on individual requirements and habits, but also on the running or walking pace. Together with the step length, the frequency determines the distance that is covered in a certain time. Accordingly, this size can be changed either by varying one or both parameters.
Larger steps at the same frequency increase the distance per time, smaller steps reduce it accordingly. A higher step frequency with the same step length also leads to an extension of the running or walking distance, a smaller one to a reduction.
The width of a step depends not only on the walking habit, but also on the length of the leg, which is why it is usually more extended in taller people. Slight variations of the leverage ratio, which means the constellation between upper body and leg length, can modify this statement. People with relatively long legs are more likely to take larger steps. The differences are small, however.
Step frequency, walking pace and walking distance are parameters that are used in assessment procedures that aim to measure the mobility of people who have impairments. They are used, for example, at the beginning of a therapy in order to get a starting value that can be compared with measurements that are carried out again after a certain period of treatment. From this knowledge can be gained as to whether the therapy is successful or not.
The decision whether and how it should be continued can also depend on the results. For this purpose, a distance would be defined for the measurement criterion step frequency, which the test person should cover with his maximum walking frequency. The retest then checks whether the same route with a higher frequency is possible.
The step frequency is an important criterion when it comes to optimized running in the endurance range, in a certain way this also applies to sporty Nordic walking. Many recreational athletes have wrong ideas about how they can optimally improve their running performance. They increase the stride length because they think that if the frequency remains the same, they can increase the running distance per unit of time. However, this is a fallacy and has 2 main reasons. Larger steps require more force for the push off and the forward drive, which is not yet there at the beginning, especially with less trained people. As a result, the body's center of gravity is not accelerated properly and remains far back. The forward movement is slowed down and requires more effort.
This fact is aggravated by the fact that the body's center of gravity remains far behind the point where the foot touches down. The movement is greatly slowed down and more force and energy is required to ensure forward propulsion.
More economical and faster running is easier and more effective to achieve by increasing the step frequency accordingly. Combined with the right type of contact when sitting down and a slight forward leaning of the upper body, there are enormous advantages for the economy and the stress on the structures of the musculoskeletal system. The movement is generally rounder with little vertical movement and the contact time of the foot is shorter. This results in less impact and less stress on ligaments, menisci, bones and joints. The amount of energy that has to be provided for movement is much smaller.
There are frequency values that athletes can use as a guide. A step frequency of 160 - 170 steps per minute is optimal for recreational sports, top athletes run at around 180.
The step frequency and the step length are linked to intact functional abilities. These depend on the one hand on the level of training, but on the other hand also on whether there are impairments that hinder or prevent execution. With age, performance decreases, which also affects step frequency, walking speed and pace. However, there are individual differences that depend on individual skills and the level of training.
A general weakness of the muscles, as it occurs during or after severe illnesses with phases of immobility, only allows slow steps with a short length. The normal values must gradually be reached again with therapeutic assistance.
Diseases that fundamentally affect locomotion are all injuries that affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints or other structures of the musculoskeletal system involved, especially if they are accompanied by pain. Pulled muscles, torn muscles, meniscus injuries or arthrosis affect the stride length and the step frequency equally. Running is usually not possible under such conditions.
A consequence of illnesses or temporary immobility can be restricted mobility of the hip or knee joints. The reduced amplitude of movement then no longer allows the normal stride length. One consequence can be the reduction in the walking distance per unit of time if the frequency cannot be increased.
Even for athletes who want to achieve optimal running performance, sufficient mobility is the basic requirement in order to be able to fully exhaust their physiological potential. Regular dynamic stretches should therefore be part of the training plan.
Neurological diseases can cause massive impairment of the step frequency. People who suffer from Parkinson's can often be recognized by their small steps. So you walk with a relatively high frequency, but a short step length, so that the gain in distance is very small. They sometimes also show phases in which the movement process literally falls asleep. The short steps become slower and slower until walking is completely stopped.
All types of paralysis of the legs negatively affect stride length and the speed at which movements can be made. Often times, gait patterns arise that are characterized by uncertainty and uncoordinated processes. High step frequencies are no longer possible. The walking pace and the walking distance are limited.