Increasing preferred step rate during running reduces plantar pressures Academic Article uri icon


  • Increasing preferred step rate during running is a commonly used strategy in the management of running-related injuries. This study investigated the effect of different step rates on plantar pressures during running. Thirty-two healthy runners ran at a comfortable speed on a treadmill at five step rates (preferred, ±5%, and ±10%). For each step rate, plantar pressure data were collected using the pedar-X in-shoe system. Compared to running with a preferred step rate, a 10% increase in step rate significantly reduced peak pressure (144.5±46.5 vs 129.3±51 kPa; P=.033) and maximum force (382.3±157.6 vs 334.0±159.8 N; P=.021) at the rearfoot, and reduced maximum force (426.4±130.4 vs 400.0±116.6 N; P=.001) at the midfoot. In contrast, a 10% decrease in step rate significantly increased peak pressure (144.5±46.5 vs 161.5±49.3 kPa; P=.011) and maximum force (382.3±157.6 vs 425.4±155.3 N; P=.032) at the rearfoot. Changing step rate by 5% provided no effect on plantar pressures, and no differences in plantar pressures were observed at the medial forefoot, lateral forefoot or hallux between the step rates. This study's findings indicate that increasing preferred step rate by 10% during running will reduce plantar pressures at the rearfoot and midfoot, while decreasing step rate by 10% will increase plantar pressures at the rearfoot. However, changing preferred step rate by 5% will provide no effect on plantar pressures, and forefoot pressures are unaffected by changes in step rate.

publication date

  • 2018