by Alison McGinnis, PT, DPT, FAFS

When analyzing running form, it’s important to understand the components of the gait cycle so we can communicate more efficiently. Check out the definitions below to learn more about how to talk about the biomechanics of running. And if you’d like to learn more about your personal running form, check out our gait analysis here.

Initial Contact: When the foot strikes the ground.

Push Off: When the foot leaves the ground.

Step Length: Distance between one foot’s initial contact to the other foot’s initial contact. 

Stride Length: Distance the center of mass travels during the time from one foot’s initial contact to the same foot’s next initial contact. Or the distance between one foot’s initial contact to the same foot’s next initial contact. 

Stance Phase/Contact time: Consists of the time spent on the ground from initial contact to push off of one foot.

Flight Phase/Flight Time: Consists of the time spent in the air from push off to initial contact of one foot.

Cadence: Is a measurement of strides per minute. It is a function of contact time and flight time.

Running Speed: Distance covered per minute. It is a function of Cadence and Stride length.

Stride Angle: The angle/distance between the front femur and the back femur at any given moment during the stride. Typically measured at its maximal distance during flight phase.

Foot Angle: The angle between the forefoot/toes and the tibia at initial contact.