Running Health: Balance - Cadence

What does a Cadence imbalance mean?

A Cadence imbalance occurs when the duration of a step on your right leg doesn’t match the duration of a step on your left leg. Cadence imbalance is typically associated with limb dominance or differences in muscle activation, strength and/or mobility between the left and right legs.

When is Cadence imbalance a concern?

Some minor Cadence imbalance (< 5%) is not uncommon and nothing to worry about. If, however, any of the following conditions apply to you, then trying to improve Cadence balance might be useful:

1) NURVV Run identifies that you have a Cadence imbalance of more than 5%.
2) You tend to suffer from persistent running-related injuries,
3) You wish to improve your running technique.

How can I improve my Cadence imbalance?

Improving Cadence Balance has a lot to do with optimizing neuromuscular activations. Running drills, interval training, and weight training as well as running to the beat can all help with this.
Below, we have put together Beginner and Advanced exercise plans aiming to help you optimize cadence by improving and balancing neuromuscular activations with a focus on single-leg exercises.

If you have not done any of the exercises listed below, start with the Beginner plan. If you are familiar with the exercises and are confident in your technique, start with an Advanced plan.

Aim to complete 1 or 2 sessions per week as an addition to your normal running schedule.
Regardless of the plan you choose, we recommend adjusting the number of sets/reps if you feel that you’re working too hard or not hard enough.

You should emphasise quality of movement over quantity so feel free to experiment until you find set/rep combinations which allow you to maintain good form throughout your workout. You can also consult a PT/ S&C coach to get a more personal recommendation.

Exercise Plans

BEGINNER: Session 1 (time estimate: 40-50min) (Downloadable PDF)
For single leg exercises, complete the sets and reps listed for each leg.

BEGINNER: Session 2 (time estimate: 40-50min) (Downloadable PDF version)
For single leg exercises, complete sets and reps listed, for each leg.

ADVANCED: Session 1 (time estimate: 50-60min)(Downloadable PDF version)
For single leg exercises, complete sets and reps listed, for each leg.

ADVANCED: Session 2 (time estimate: 50-60min)(Downloadable PDF version)
For single leg exercises, complete sets and reps listed, for each leg.

Using These Workouts

You will need to follow your chosen workout plan for 6-8 weeks, completing at least one session per week in order to see improvements

Remember, even after improvements are made, regular strength and conditioning sessions will be required to maintain improvements.

How can I tell if my Cadence imbalance is improving?

Running Health can show you whether your exercise program is helping to improve your Cadence imbalance.

1. Go to the Running health screen Check your Health Radar graph regularly to see the current grading of your Balance. If you started with a low grading for Balance (i.e. ‘Bad’/’Poor’/’Average’ category), focus on whether you’re moving towards ‘Good’ / ‘Great’ categories.

2. Now scroll down to A breakdown and select Balance for more details on how your balance has changed. On top of this Balance screen, your data are presented for the past 28 days. This graph is key for monitoring your progress once you start applying improvement strategies. You should aim for a gradual increase of the Balance line over time, ideally until it reaches the Good or Great zones (line will be shaded blue), this represents excellent left-right balance. The small circles indicate daily values of Balance (based on a combination of step length, footstrike, pronation and cadence imbalances) on days when runs were completed.

3. Inspect the mini-charts at the bottom of the Balance screen and make sure that you pay extra attention to the average percentage imbalance for Cadence to notice any improvements after you start to implement interventions to promote Cadence balance.

The Cadence mini-chart provides the Cadence imbalance values for each day for up to the last 28 days. The most recent day’s value is in the dark grey line at the top and previous day’s data goes back in time from top to bottom. For each day, the direction of the line from the centre tells you which side the Cadence imbalance (bias) favours and the length of the line indicates how big the imbalance is. At the bottom of the mini-chart the average direction and magnitude of the Cadence imbalance for the past 28 days is shown.