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J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Oct 17. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002891. [Epub ahead of print]

Factors Associated With Self-Selected Step Rate in High School Cross Country Runners.

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Graduate Program in Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, Utah.
Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Nike Sport Research Lab, Nike, Inc., Beaverton, Oregon.
Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, San Diego State University, San Diego, California.


Luedke, LE, Heiderscheit, BC, Williams, DSB, and Rauh, MJ. Factors associated with self-selected step rate in high school cross country runners. J Strength Cond Res XX(X): 000-000, 2018-Recommendations for step rate, or cadence, during distance running come from varying perspectives including performance, running economy, and injury risk. Studies of adult runners suggest that running experience and leg length may influence step rate, but limited evidence is available on factors that influence adolescent runner step rates. The purpose was to evaluate relationships between running experience, anthropometric factors, and lower extremity muscle strength with self-selected step rate in adolescent runners. Sixty-eight high school cross country runners (47 young women; age 16.2 ± 1.3 years) reported height, body mass, and running experience. Mean step rate was assessed at 3.3 m·s and self-selected (mean 3.8 ± 0.5 m·s) speeds. Leg length and peak isometric strength of the hip abductors, knee extensors, and flexors were also measured. Step rates at 3.3 m·s {r (95% confidence interval [CI]) = 0.44 [0.22, 0.61], p < 0.001} and self-selected (r [95% CI] = 0.45 [0.20, 0.66], p < 0.001) speeds were correlated with running experience. Step rates at 3.3 m·s and self-selected speeds were inversely associated with body mass (r [95% CI] = -0.32 [-0.52, -0.09], p = 0.007 and r [95% CI] = -0.34 [-0.53, -0.11], p = 0.005, respectively), height (r [95% CI] = -0.40 [-0.58, -0.18], p = 0.01 and r [95% CI] = -0.32 [-0.52, -0.09], p = 0.008, respectively), and leg length (r [95% CI] = -0.48 [-0.64, -0.27], p < 0.001 and r [95% CI] = -0.35 [-0.52, -0.12], p = 0.004, respectively). No significant relationships were found between isometric strength values and step rate at either speed (p > 0.05). Adolescent runners with greater running experience displayed higher step rates. Hence, the lower step rates in runners with less experience may factor in the higher injury risk previously reported in novice runners. Runners with shorter leg length displayed higher step rates. Step rate recommendations should consider runner experience and anthropometrics.

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