How Can Stride Length Impact Your Walking Quality ?

Take a minute to look down as your walk. Have you ever considered how much ground you’re covering with each step? Although the length of your stride might not be something you’re typically conscious of, its impact on your health, and overall quality of walking, can be significant.

The technical definition of stride length is the distance covered between two consecutive heel impacts of the same foot as you walk. Moreover, stride length varies based on factors like height, leg length, fitness, and personal biomechanics.  

Now, let’s explore the importance of this component to your gait and how optimizing it can have significant benefits to how you feel. 

How is stride length related to the mechanics of your gait? 

Optimizing your stride length can improve the efficiency of your walk and reduce fatigue. Moreover, balancing stride length and cadence can optimize energy use, allowing a comfortable pace with reduced exertion per step.  This becomes more important for those who walk frequently for exercise or commuting, particularly over long distances or at a brisk pace.

Stride length is directly correlated with the speed at which you walk. A longer stride length, of course, helps you cover more ground with each step, resulting in a faster walk. However, excessively long strides use up too much energy and increase fatigue. Finding the balance between stride length and energy economy is critical to a healthy walking technique. 

Furthermore, the length of your stride also influences your balance and stability while walking, which factors into your degree of walking symmetry – another critical component of your gait. Longer strides demand more control and coordination, especially during rapid, dynamic motion or on slippery, uneven surfaces

Finally, changes in stride length can be an indicator of a health status change. For example, when experiencing hip, knee, or ankle pain, people will tend to shorten their stride length in order to minimize pain associated with each heel impact. Interestingly, restricted upper body motion can lead to shorter strides, as arm swing and rotation are crucial for balance. Consequently, shortened stride lengths have also been correlated to reducing fitness level and even depression 

How does stride length impact your body’s comfort level? 

Firstly, stride length has a large effect on the movement of your limbs and joints as you step. Proper stride length allows for smooth and coordinated movement of your upper body, arms, legs, knees, and ankles, minimizing stress on your joints. Additionally, long strides increase joint impact, especially hips, knees, and ankles, requiring extended arm swing and upper body rotation. These can potentially contribute to joint pain, decrease balance, and increase your risk of fall or injury. On the contrary, strides that are too short may result in a shuffling gait, which can decrease your stability and increase the risk of tripping or falling. It is important therefore, to walk at a stride length that is aligned with your body’s natural biomechanics, has a good balance of muscle activation and impact force mitigation, and allows you to move at a desired speed. 

 

How can you make sure you are striding at the proper length? 

To begin with, innovative new technology, like the sensor modules at the center of Baliston’s tech-augmented footwear, health-focused walkers can get personalized biometrics about their stride length.  Along with contextualized insights, the Baliston Connect™ App serves as a wellness coach, providing recommendations on how to alter your stride length for optimal walking technique and structural wellness. Furthermore, these recommendations may include lengthening by improving posture, flexibility, balance, and strength, or shortening to reduce fatigue. 

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