Running with narrow stride width or toe-out?

Each of us has individual running style and foot pattern, but sometimes they can cause more harm than good. Runners often observe their foot stride length and cadence but forget stride width or feet position. We have spoken cadence earlier, you can find it here. Are you running like a duck or like more hit the catwalk?

Normal, Narrow vs wide stride

You may have seen some runners crossing over as they have been in the catwalk, or maybe you do it? It’s difficult to define the perfect angle of stride width, as there are so many factors. Overall can be said that too narrow stride increase risk of injury and problems, such as lateral stride pain, shin splints, lateral hip pain and it often creates more stress on the IT band and cause excessive tibial stress.

Whereas, too wide stride increase metabolic cost, which slows down the speed. But, on the other hand, wider stride can disperse forces to somewhere else. Wide stride, may cause supination and that away from other problems.

Like we noted earlier it’s difficult to define a correct width, as persons natural hip anatomic, hip wideness and running technique affects the width. You can easily check your stride by running on sand, snow or wet your bottom of your shoes. If you have pain or discomfort often, it might be signs of too narrow or too wide stride.

The width can be fixed, as it can also be due to weak or tight muscles, or overactive/inhibited muscles. The footprints should overlap only a little or not at all. Training later jumps/skipping, hip abductions (glutes), as well as lower back and abdominals, help to fix stride width.

toe-out gait

Running like a duck? It’s not effective, slow-down and cost a lot of energy. For some people toe-out gait might be wider because of their natural anatomical hip position, for rest, it’s often due to tight or weak muscles or overactive/inhibited muscles, and can be fixed.

Normal angle of gait is around 5 degree. The wider angle often causes piriformis syndrome, medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splint), plantar fasciitis, medial knee pain. Toe out gait can be figured the same way as foot stride width, running on the surface where you can see your footprints.

Toe-out posture can be caused by posterior pelvic tilt, hip external rotation, tibial external rotation, limited ankle dorsiflexion, foot pronation or all of these. Depending on where the problem occurs, the exercises take place. If the problems are hip area focus on the tightness of abdominal, glutes and hamstrings areas. Or if the problem is below the knee focus on the calves, shins and feet. Remember take account side different, if your other foot is normal and other is more toed out, is there are more tightness or weakness on the other side.

Sports Biomech. 2012 Nov;11(4):464-72. Meardon SA, Campbell S, Derrick TR. Step width alters iliotibial band strain during running.

Meardon, S. A.; Campbell, S.; Derrick, T. R., Step width alters iliotibial band strain during running. Sports Biomechanics 2012, 11 (4), 464-472.

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