Running Health: Balance - Step length

What does a Step Length imbalance mean?

A Step Length imbalance occurs when there is a difference in the distance covered between the right step and left step within one stride cycle. Over time, this can make running less efficient and slower than when Step Length is balanced.

When is Step Length imbalance a concern?

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

1) NURVV Run identifies that you have a Step Length 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 Step Length imbalance?

A Step Length imbalance between left and the right sides often occurs when a runner has different levels of flexibility and strength in the muscles of each leg, especially around the hip region.

To reduce imbalance in Step Length, we recommend focusing your training sessions on hip mobility through a variety of drills as well as static and dynamic fundamental movements, such as plyometrics and series of stretches.

The exercise plans below can help you boost the range of motion and strength of muscles and joints involved in step length generation. Depending on your fitness status and exercise abilities, choose to start with either a Beginner or an Advanced exercise plan.

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: 35-40 min) (Downloadable PDF)

For single leg exercises, complete the sets and reps listed for each leg.

BEGINNER: Session 2 (time estimate: 35-40min) (Downloadable PDF)

For single leg exercises, complete the sets and reps listed for each leg.

ADVANCED: Session 1 (time estimate: 45-60min) (Downloadable PDF)

For single leg exercises, complete the sets and reps listed for each leg.

ADVANCED: Session 2 (time estimate: 45-60min) (Downloadable PDF)

For single leg exercises, complete the 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 Step Length imbalance is improving?

Running Health can show you whether your exercise program is helping to improve your Step Length 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 Step Length to notice any improvements after you start to implement interventions to promote Step Length balance.

The Step Length mini-chart provides the Step Length 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 Step Length 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 Step Length imbalance for the past 28 days is shown.