What Is the Average Stride Length by Height?

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Stride length is something many runners don’t think about. But it plays an important role in running efficiency, pacing, speed, and even reducing injuries. It’s also closely related to your running form.

Understanding your stride length is valuable for any runner looking to improve their cadence and prevent overstriding, which can lead to possible injuries.

Let’s take a closer look at stride length and how to figure yours out.

What Is Stride Length?

Your stride length is the distance covered with a single stride or step when you’re moving. A “single stride” actually equals two steps—one with one foot, one with the other.

Stride length is measured from the point of initial contact of one foot on the ground to the next point of initial contact of the same foot. It’s influenced by several factors, which we’ll go into below.
Why Is Stride Length Important?
Stride length is important for several reasons, but the main reason is that it’s directly related to your running mechanics. An efficient stride length can make you a better runner. Stride length affects:

Efficiency

A well-balanced stride length allows you to cover more ground with each step using less energy. This helps conserve energy over the course of a run, keeping some in the tank the entire way.

Pacing

Understanding and controlling your stride length helps you maintain a consistent pace. It’s essential for runners who want to meet specific time goals or achieve negative splits.

Training Adaptations

When you optimize your stride length and running form, your body will use less energy to achieve the same times or distances. In the end, you’ll be able to run faster and farther with the same amount of energy.

Increased Speed & Distance

Runners who work on their stride length can experience performance improvements without increasing their training volume. A better stride length equals covering more distance or running faster for your usual distance before you fatigue.

By running more efficiently, you can achieve better results with the same or even reduced training mileage, just by working on your stride!

Injury Prevention

Maintaining the right stride length helps prevent overstriding, which can place excessive stress on your muscles and joints. You’ll be less likely to develop injuries if you’ve optimized your stride length.

What’s the Difference Between Stride and Step Length?

Stride length is measured from the landing of one foot to the next landing of the same foot. Step length is measured from one foot’s landing to the opposite foot’s landing. Stride length is a more important number for runners to know.

Factors Influencing Stride Length

While leg length plays a huge role, your stride length can be influenced by multiple different factors. These include:

Physical Factors

Height

Taller runners have longer natural strides due to having longer legs. But height alone doesn’t determine running speed. A balance between stride length and cadence is crucial for speed, and shorter runners can be just as fast as taller ones by increasing their cadence.

Age

Stride length often decreases with age. As you get older, you experience a natural decline in flexibility, joint mobility, and muscle elasticity, which can result in shorter strides. However, maintaining a regular exercise routine and flexibility training can help prevent some of these age-related changes.

Gender

On average, men tend to have longer stride lengths than women. However, it varies widely from person to person.

Flexibility

Good flexibility in the hip flexors, hamstrings, and calf muscles allows for a longer stride. Stretching and mobility exercises can improve flexibility and, in turn, stride length.

External Factors

Footwear

The type of running shoes you wear can affect your stride length. Properly fitted running shoes with the correct arch support for your gait can support your natural biomechanics and stride length.

Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes can lead to poor biomechanics, potentially resulting in shorter strides as you may compromise your form due to discomfort or pain.

Terrain

The terrain you’re running on also makes a difference. Uphill running usually results in shorter strides for more power, while downhill running may involve longer, more extended strides.

Walking or Running Speed

As you run faster, your stride length increases. You need to take longer steps to cover more ground in less time. At slower speeds, your stride length becomes shorter. This means your walking stride length is almost always shorter than your running stride length.

What’s Considered an Average Stride Length?

Running stride length can vary significantly depending on the factors mentioned above. As a general guideline, the average step length for a typical adult of average height running at an average speed is 2.2 to 2.5 feet—approximately 0.67 to 0.76 meters—and stride length is usually around double that.

However, taller runners will likely have a longer stride length, while shorter runners will likely have a shorter one. But neither of these are set in stone.

Average Stride Length by Height

Stride length and height are very closely connected. Most fitness trackers and smartwatches use a formula with height and step length to work out your stride length.

  • Men: Height (inches) x 0.415 = step length
  • Women: Height (inches) x 0.413 = step length

Once you’ve got your step length, simply double it, and that’s your average stride length in inches. You can convert it to feet if it’s easier.

Men

Height  Average Stride Length 
5 ft. 4 in.  53.12 inches 
5 ft. 5 in.  53.95 inches 
5 ft. 6 in.  54.78 inches 
5 ft. 7 in.  55.61 inches 
5 ft. 8 in.  56.44 inches 
5 ft. 9 in.  57.27  inches 
5 ft. 10 in.  58.1 inches 
5 ft. 11 in.  58.93 inches 
6 ft. 0 in  59.76 inches 
6 ft. 1 in. 60.59 inches 
6 ft. 2 in.  61.42 inches 

Women

Height  Average Stride Length 
5 ft. 0 in.  49.6 inches 
5 ft. 1 in.  50.4 inches 
5 ft. 2 in.  51.2 inches 
5 ft. 3 in.  52.0 inches 
5 ft. 4 in. 52.9 inches 
5 ft. 5 in.  53.7 inches 
5 ft. 6 in.  54.5 inches 
5 ft. 7 in. 55.3 inches 
5 ft. 8 in.  56.2 inches 
5 ft. 9 in.  57.0 inches 
5 ft. 10 in.  57.8 inches 

How You Can Measure Your Stride Length

Want to measure your own stride length? You need to know your height and your step length to get an accurate measurement.

Measured Distance

Stride Length Walking

Find a measured distance, like a track or a section of road, that you know the distance of. Walk the distance and count how many steps you take throughout the walk. You can use a smartwatch to help you count, although it may not be entirely accurate.

Divide the total number of steps you took by the distance. This gives you your average walking stride length. For better accuracy, measure a longer distance in a straight line, because it may be less accurate to account for turns on the route.

Stride Length Running

Like the walking method, find a measured distance on a track or running path. Run the distance while counting your steps. Divide the total number of steps by the distance to calculate your average running stride length at that pace.

Wet Foot Walk Method

For this method, you’ll need something to wet your feet and a surface that you can safely leave wet footprints on. Wet the soles of your feet and then walk—or run—a few steps on the surface, leaving footprints.

Before the wet footprints fade, use a tape measure or string to measure the distance between two footprints of the same feet. Be careful about running on wet surfaces though—there’s a high chance of slipping and injuring yourself.

How to Improve Stride Length

While you should try not to overstride, you should also do what you can to optimize your stride length. You’ll expend less energy on running and retain more power in your legs, which can go a long way towards boosting your speed or distance.

Try these methods of improving your stride length, and remember: stride length and cadence go hand in hand. Work on one, and you’ll need to work on the other!

Add Drills to Your Routine

Running drills are quick, easy, and effective. They’re excellent for warming up and can help to improve your stride length when done often and done right.

  • High Knees: Incorporate high knee drills to practice lifting your knees higher with each step, which can lead to a longer stride.
  • Power Skips: Power skips help increase explosiveness and leg drive, encouraging a longer stride during running.
  • Stride Outs: Short, controlled sprints focused on achieving maximum stride length. Help reinforce proper form and a more extended stride.
  • Bounding: Bounding is taking exaggerated, powerful leaps, promoting longer strides and greater strength in your legs.

Improve Your Flexibility

Regular stretching can improve flexibility, particularly in the hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps. When these muscles are looser, you may find that your stride improves noticeably as your range of motion is no longer limited by tight muscles.

Yoga and mobility exercises can also help increase joint and muscle flexibility, allowing for a more extended stride.

Strengthen Your Core and Leg Muscles

A strong core and leg muscles provide stability and power. By strengthening them, you can maintain and control a longer stride.

We recommend doing strength training. Include exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and plyometrics to target and strengthen your leg muscles and things like planks, Russian twists, and leg raises to help improve your core strength.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.