Running cadence (how many times your feet hit the ground in minute) can affect the biomechanics of your running as well as the amount of force that goes through your legs when running.
The slower your cadence is, the more heel strike you land in and the more force that goes through the leg. As you increase your cadence, the foot strike transitions to more of a midfoot strike with the leg more directly underneath your body, which decreases the amount of force that goes through the foot, ankle, knee, and foot.
Naturally, the greater the force through the leg the greater the stress on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the leg. As the forces through the leg decrease, so do the stresses throughout the leg. For example, increasing cadence by 5% can decrease forces as the knee by 15%. What does this mean? Less knee pain for you!
An ideal running cadence for decreasing risk of injury is 178-180 steps/minute. Most runners tend to be between 150-165 steps/minute.
So how do you figure out cadence or change it? To calculate your cadence, when running outside at your normal pace, count the number of times your right leg hits the ground in one minute and multiply that by two. That will give you your step per minute.
Once you figure out that number, you can work on increasing it. Calculate what a 5% increase would be from your normal cadence. Then on Google or Spotify, you can search for “songs with ___ beats per minute.” When you run to music, you naturally start to run to the beat of the music; it is almost impossible to avoid.
Your call to action: Make a playlist of songs with the appropriate beats per minute for you to increase your cadence 5% and see how you feel with it as well as if the pain you are experiencing starts to decrease.