The Effect of Cadence Manipulation on Plantar Pressures

Cadence manipulation is increasingly being used as a tool to manage overuse injuries in runners and I have previously reviewed two recent studies: Increasing cadence and patellofemoral forces and Increasing Cadence and Running Injury. Increasing the cadence does decrease the load on some tissues, but increases the load on others, so its going to be six of one and half a dozen of the other. What is better for one runner versus another is going to depend on the injury history and what tissues you want to reduce the load in and what tissues you don’t want to load. Now we have this new study that looked at the effect of changing cadence on plantar pressure variables:

The Effects of Running Cadence Manipulation on Plantar Loading in Healthy Runners.
Wellenkotter J, Kernozek TW, Meardon S, Suchomel T
Int J Sports Med. 2014 Mar 4
Our purpose was to evaluate effects of cadence manipulation on plantar loading during running. Participants (n=38) ran on a treadmill at their preferred speed in 3 conditions: preferred, 5% increased, and 5% decreased while measured using in-shoe sensors. Data (contact time [CT], peak force [PF], force time integral [FTI], pressure time integral [PTI] and peak pressure [PP]) were recorded for 30 right footfalls. Multivariate analysis was performed to detect differences in loading between cadences in the total foot and 4 plantar regions. Differences in plantar loading occurred between cadence conditions. Total foot CT and PF were lower with a faster cadence, but no total foot PP differences were observed. Faster cadence reduced CT, pressure and force variables in both the heel and metatarsal regions. Increasing cadence did not elevate metatarsal loads; rather, total foot and all regions were reduced when healthy runners increased their cadence. If a 5% increase in cadence from preferred were maintained over each mile run the impulse at the heel would be reduced by an estimated 565 body weights*s (BW*s) and the metatarsals 140-170 BW*s per mile run despite the increased steps taken. Increasing cadence may benefit overuse injuries associated with elevated plantar loading.

While this study generated some interesting data; and was on a treadmill, so that needs to be taken into account; and used in-shoe plantar pressures, the only real issues I have was this statement:

Increasing cadence may benefit overuse injuries associated with elevated plantar loading

I don’t know of any overuse injuries that are linked to plantar pressures parameters, so what was the point of the study? I would have thought that a greater priority would have been given to finding what, if any, plantar pressure parameters are associated with an overuse injury before looking at interventions to change them.

As always, I go where the evidence takes me until convinced otherwise.

Wellenkotter, J., Kernozek, T., Meardon, S., & Suchomel, T. (2014). The Effects of Running Cadence Manipulation on Plantar Loading in Healthy Runners International Journal of Sports Medicine DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1363236

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One Response to The Effect of Cadence Manipulation on Plantar Pressures

  1. Barry March 8, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    The study is interesting, I wonder why they only studied right sided data. The comments regarding body weight/mile sound like they’re trying to find some impressive sounding data at the expensive of relevence – this sounds meaningless to me. I am commenting outside my field tho!

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