METRIC MONDAY: Why your Knee Elevation matters
Here we go again, it’s another #MetricMonday! Metric Monday sees us take an in-depth look at a range of metrics that impact your running, one by one, detailing their importance, what they mean, and how understanding and working to improve on each metric can help you in your running performance. By understanding and working on these metrics for those crucial, performance-boosting marginal gains, you can improve on the key aspects of your form and technique and become a consistently better runner. Last week, we took a long hard look at the importance of your kickback and how you can work towards training it for an optimal performance. It also seems right then that we now switch our focus to its metric twin – knee elevation. In this blog, we’ll examine just what your knee elevation is, what it means for your running, and give some top tips on how you can maximise your performance with this particular metric aspect.
What is knee elevation? Knee elevation is the height of your knees during the extension phase of the stride.
Think of it as a sequence of events. Your knee will be at its most elevated (that’s where we measure the height) after your foot has hit the floor, and the resounding power and pressure forces your knee to elevate. A simple rule of thumb – the more power on your landing, the higher your knee will be. After your foot makes powerful contact with the ground, your hip pushes your momentum forwards, resulting in your knees rising and moving forwards.
Yet, while thinking about the height of your knee is important for knee elevation, it’s also integral to your performance to focus on the direction of the knee drive – after all, you’re heading forwards, not upwards.
Why is it important?
Knee elevation is important to two particular metrics – your kickback and your stride length.
Firstly, let’s look at why knee elevation has an effect on your kickback. In our last blog, we discussed how your leg’s swing is really important to generate momentum – and your knee’s elevation has a big part to play in that.
Your kickback happens as the result of a sequence, just like your knee elevation. Just as your kickback helps your legs get themselves ready to swing forward once more and anticipate the next footstrike for a bigger reflexive drive, your knee drive aids your legs in generating that power from your footstrike into elevation to then kickback.
By swinging your trailing leg forwards, you further engage your leg muscles, particularly your hamstrings, during the mid-swing phase and increase the amount of momentum in your swing. Your trailing leg is pulled back into position for the next footstrike by both the natural swing of the hip flexors, but also the thigh and hamstrings that thrust the rest of the leg forward.
Secondly – stride length. Think about what we mentioned earlier – your knee elevation is dependant on the amount of force in your contact with the ground. The harder you hit the ground, the higher your knee will be, and the faster your leg will move forwards.
While keeping that up for an entire race at a high level will surely affect your energy, it’s good to think of the right moments to concentrate on when to increase your knee elevation to gain boosts of momentum – it’s what elite sprinters do!
How can I train my knee elevation?
Think of your knee elevation as a tool to help increase your stride length, as well as aiding your kickback motion.
For a faster and more efficient run, it’s common knowledge that limiting your ground contact time is key to stop a braking motion and help keep your run economical. The best way to do that is to reduce your number of steps and work towards an increased stride length — which can be done by increasing your knee elevation, meaning you don’t have to overstretch for longer, stronger strides, but rather gain them as a result of your motion and momentum.
Be sure that you’re not over-egging it and putting too much force to the ground, however, as you’ll end up with a stomping motion that increases your braking and could potentially put too much pressure on your foot and joints which may risk injury.
Another point — if you run in the countryside and through muddy or wet ground, you’ll have to increase your knee elevation, as the lack of solid ground will limit the amount of momentum you can generate. That’s why running on roads and non-wet paths will be better for generating force.
You’re probably wondering just how you can measure your knee elevation for an optimal performance. The answer? STRIDESENSE, our ground-breaking new lab-grade fitness tracker.
Using our 5 motion-tracking sensors placed around your legs and waist in provided compression-fit leggings, you can see all your running metrics through our in-app visualiser to see exactly how you’ve performed as soon as you finish your run.
When it comes to your knee elevation, we measure this metric on a visualiser, shown in-app as an area to aim for. By using STRIDESENSE, you can monitor exactly how high your knees are rising to ensure you’re not under or over elevating, bettering your form and showing how you can generate more power.
Unlike some of our other measured metrics, there is no scoring for your knee elevation. Instead, the app simply provides zones for you to target by displaying your movement and highlighting the zones to aim for.
Start getting the best out of your metric running performance today with STRIDESENSE. Order online now from our website.