Vertical Oscillation (Garmin)

Looking at my running dynamic stats on Garmin my Vertical Oscillation gets red dots across the board, my average seems to be 12.5cm and I believe Garmin is suggesting it should be nearer 10cm.

I’ve been aware of this recently and have made a conscious effort to try and reduce it, but having a look at the stats I can’t see it’s made any difference.

My cadence seems slightly on the low side (163), and I assume there is some correlation? I’ve tried to increase this but it seems to send my heart rate up.

Is this something I should try and focus on, will lowering it result in significant efficiency improvements?

My made up maths/science would say if I can reduce the height of each stride by 2.5cm, that energy could result in an extra 3cm to my stride length. 163 strides a minute, that’s almost 5m, so over an hour gains me 300m.

Not an expert but I have looked at my running dynamics a bit.

I paid least attention to vertical oscillation.

Cadence is probably the most important and increasing from 163 (which is low) will probably increase your efficiency. I’m in the high 160s at easy/steady pace and have tried to increase it but have always found it really hard to do!

Ground contact time is also interesting, lower is better.

But cadence is the only one you can really consciously do something about IMHO

1 Like

I have no idea how relaible that garmin data is regarding vertical oscillation. Cadence is variable though I have mate who is a good runner (2:3x marathons) and now fell runs and his cadence is routinely in low 160s and he’s rarely injured. My nephew is about 6’2" and long limbed, and a local fast triathlete of similar height and shape, one runs at 180 the other low 160s for easy runs about the same pace. I would get some to eyeball it before worrying about it.

1 Like

How does the data vary according to pace?

The following is from a run I did at the start of the week. First 6km up hill and slow. Followed by a blast down hill for 5km. Looks like my vertical oscillation is pretty consistent whether I’m running fast or slow but the other metrics are pretty different.

1 Like

My VO seems fairly consistent across paces. Not a huge change in pace in my run yesterday (the scale used by Garmin would make it almost impossible to notice it anyway), but there were some quicker parts towards the end which do result in increases to stride length & cadence and reduction in ground contact time (I seem to naturally have very good ground contact time?).

Well, I tried to increase my cadence, but I guess stride length stayed the same and it resulted in a quicker pace… which I certainly felt. It did result in a lower VO. When trying to reduce my pace but keep the high cadence just felt like I was running on the spot.

So, vertical oscillation is comprised of two key components, and your Garmin cannot differentiate between the two, it just provides an overall.

It is also worth noting that it is a value worth understanding (for comparison) as a % of height as opposed to an absolute.

As @r0bh states, cadence is a contributory factor and, up to a point, a higher cadence is beneficial. this is mainly achieved through reduced ground contact (stance) time…but there is more to it that just increasing cadence, it’s what your feet do when they are on the ground which is important.

Again as he states, increasing cadence can be hard to do because there is an increased energy cost to taking more steps, but this can be compensated with improved posture and forward lean.

Gaining greater efficiency from increased cadence takes time…with improved forward lean, more of the propulsive forces are taking you forward rather than up which negates some of one part of the vertical component…the other part comes from a combination of improved muscular strength and improved components of running form…


no you don’t…