More flexible + Greater range of movement = Greater Stride Length

Posted In: Flexibility

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        Irish100m on #16538

        Is this the case? If so, what exercises and stretches can be done to improve stride length?

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        Craig Pickering on #94860

        It may be the case, but greater stride length = less stride frequency = possibly same running speed!

        Its a dangerous game playing with stride length. Unless you are really tight and feel it is affecting your stride length, I wouldnt bother going for extra flexibility. In addition to this, I actually like a bit of tightness in my muscles, as I feel like they recoil a bit quicker – particularly my hamstrings.

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        davan on #94863

        Stride length should be optimized, not just lengthened, as SpeedFreak alluded to. If you are inflexible and your range of motion is limited, then increased flexibility will help you reach a more optimal stride length and likely result in faster running speeds over time. On it’s own it isn’t going to do much and could possibly cause harm.

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        Josh Hurlebaus on #94866

        Unless you are horribly inflexible then flexibility is not the limiting factor in stride length. You should be stepping downward underneathe your COM, not in front and trying to pull back. It has nothing to do with how far your legs can split apart, only how much power you are putting down that makes you travel further before the next touchdown, which is again directly underneathe you. So I don’t see how, unless you have horrible hip ROM and cant achieve a decent knee drive, flexibility will make your stride length better.

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        COV-GOD on #94909

        there is correlation between muscle flexibility and the effect on SSC (positively) ie the more a muscle is forced through physical paramaters i.e. percieved effort such as plyometrics, starts etc then a more compliant muscle in more beneficial events that are not as ‘dynamic’ such as MD, LD running then the SSC is of less importance and hence less flexibility required.

        one of my athletes recently moved to train in one of the HiPacs here in the uk and one of the first things stated was to improve his active ROM for this reason. i personally beleive active ROm and flexibility is a big player in limitimg amatuer athletes from stepping up a little

        incidently, it is a balance my best starter is extremely flexible (natuarlly due to tendon length) but has poor top speed in comparison due to reduced stiffness at top speed (stiffness not being tight but resistance to gravity)

        type SSC and flexibility into google scholar or even wiki lol just take a look at old pics of athletes such as linford and carl lewis even modern athletes such as usain and asafa…very flexible and great active ROM

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        davan on #94912

        COV-GOD: I think you are confusing elasticity with flexibility. If flexibility was a prerequisite then gymnasts would be terrific at sprinting and elite sprinters would be very flexible (when there are many that have poor ROMs outside of the minimum needed for sprinting/jumping/etc.).

        Just as a slight counter, I’ve talked to one of Asafa’s therapist at length a number of times (counting dozens of hours at this point) and he said Asafa is quite inflexible–much moreso than most other athletes. I don’t personally know the coaches of the other athletes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are others who have relatively poor flexibility as well.

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        JeremyRichmond on #94915

        Increase stride length?

        I saw a newspaper(?)article from Usain Bolt’s coach saying he had to shorten Usain’s stride length(Leighton Levy, Jamaican Gleaner June 15, 2008).

        Increase your stride length at your peril especially if you choose to do so by improving
        flexibility.

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        COV-GOD on #94956

        no i refer to flexibility on its effect of the SSC not as a means of increasing speed by increasing passive ROM but rather active ROM. flexibility has its greatest influence with SSC <30 when body and lower limb angles are at the greatest range for appying force, by reducing stiffness allowing the agonist muscles to exert more force, worrel et al 1994 and wilson et al 1992.

        prior investigated by hortobagyi et al in 1985, where the investigation showed increased flexibility of the quads and hamstrings, showed in improvment in knee extension speed, decrease in relaxation time and increase in stride frequency during sprint. concluded, reduced stiffness of the hamstring in midrange allowed more efficent application of quad torque in overcoming external load. therefore increased flexibility of the hamstrings effectively allowed extension to occur more rapidly.. interesting.

        incidently i have never seen a slow gymnast, find one and ask him to accelerate you will see what i mean, but the exagerated level of flexibility will not be good for top speed imo

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        davan on #94957

        Can you please reference the study? Is this the one you’re talking about:
        Hortobagyi, T., Faludi, J., Tihanyi, J. and Merkely, B. (1985) Effects
        of intense ‘stretching’-flexibility training on the mechanical
        profile of the knee extensors and on the range of motion
        of the hip joint. International Journal of Sports Medicine 6,
        317-321.

        I have seen plenty of slow gymnasts btw, esp on the male side since most of their exercises/events are predominantly upper body in nature. That’s reflected in their top heavy physiques.

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        rainy.here on #100554

        Is this the case? If so, what exercises and stretches can be done to improve stride length?

        I think the biggest issue with new sprinters is inflexibility in the quad and hip flexor. These can retard a natural stride.

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #102627

        Increasing flexibility can actually have the opposite affect….if you become hypermobile or stretch excessively you’ll change the neural thresholds of the muscle and lengthen the tendon which will make you less powerful (and shorten stride length). Stride length is less a function of flexibility and more one of power output. Assuming the athlete has normal ROMs in the lower body, becoming more flexible likely won’t help and may actually hurt stride length (and speed).

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        star61 on #102629

        Increasing flexibility can actually have the opposite affect….if you become hypermobile or stretch excessively you’ll change the neural thresholds of the muscle and lengthen the tendon which will make you less powerful (and shorten stride length). Stride length is less a function of flexibility and more one of power output. Assuming the athlete has normal ROMs in the lower body, becoming more flexible likely won’t help and may actually hurt stride length (and speed).

        Can static stretching reduce stiffness?

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        Carson Boddicker on #102631

        Good discussion so far.

        I would be inclined to say that lots of stretching can reduce stiffness, both passive and active stiffnesses, which would be reflected in slower speeds. I have a few papers somewhere demonstrating sit and reach scores inversely correlated with running economy. Granted, stiffness was not a measure in this sense, I think we could argue that neurologically mediated stiffness is reduced due to some of what Mike has already mentioned.

        I am also careful to differentiate “flexibility” and “mobility.” While it may be a case where we’re just discussing semantics, ranges of motion during challenging movement tasks are not always improved with good ol’ stretching as they would be if we bring the nervous system into the game. We’re looking for improvements in antagonistic activity and quicker “impulse-relaxation” coupling to really have an impact on stride length.

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        comando-joe on #102632

        How can you know if you have enough flexibility. People tell me all the time i need to stretch alot more but the last thing i want to do is go over what i need and actually lose power. Any tests out there for this?

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        DJ Michel on #102634

        What is considered normal ROM for the lower body?

      • Mike Young
        Keymaster
        Mike Young on #102641

        Watch for how the athlete moves. If they can hit desired positions of flexion, extension, etc without loss of posture they likely have adequate mobility and joint ROM.

        ELITETRACK Founder

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        oshikake@ymail.com on #107443

        Unger voiced his complaints about the Jamaican sprinter to BILD sport, saying: [b]“Bolt didn’t even warm up for the semi final. He showed up in shorts and jogging shoes, did his pickups and practice starts, put on his spikes and then ran the 100m in 9.92 seconds.[/b]

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        burkhalter on #107444

        [quote]Unger voiced his complaints about the Jamaican sprinter to BILD sport, saying: [b]“Bolt didn’t even warm up for the semi final. He showed up in shorts and jogging shoes, did his pickups and practice starts, put on his spikes and then ran the 100m in 9.92 seconds.[/b]

        [/quote]

        Link?

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        oshikake@ymail.com on #107445

        [quote author="JC Cooper" date="1303196992"][quote]Unger voiced his complaints about the Jamaican sprinter to BILD sport, saying: [b]“Bolt didn’t even warm up for the semi final. He showed up in shorts and jogging shoes, did his pickups and practice starts, put on his spikes and then ran the 100m in 9.92 seconds.[/b]

        [/quote]

        Link?[/quote]

        Original Link: https://grg51.typepad.com/steroid_nation/2008/08/german-olympic.html

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        oshikake@ymail.com on #109023

        Length Tension Curve.

        Original Link: https://www.pt.ntu.edu.tw/hmchai/hGlossary/LengthTensionCurve.htm

        At shortened lengths: active contraction dominates force generation.
        Just beyond its resting length: passive tension begins to contribute and active tension is compromised.
        At more elongated lengths: passive tension accounts for most of the total force.

         

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        JeremyRichmond on #109037

        [b]Length Tension Curve.[/b]

        Original Link: https://www.pt.ntu.edu.tw/hmchai/hGlossary/LengthTensionCurve.htm

        At shortened lengths: active contraction dominates force generation.
        Just beyond its resting length: passive tension begins to contribute and active tension is compromised.
        At more elongated lengths: passive tension accounts for most of the total force.
         

        The graph is s perfect depiction of why passive tension is not a significant contributor at top speed running. At maximal speeds, the force production times approach the limit of human muscle contraction time so there is barely enough time to achieve peak tension in the whole muscle. When the muscle does activate it is better to have considerable overlap of cross bridges which implies that operating at the extreme ranges of joint movement would penalise force production. Stiffness at maximal speeds is due to muscle contraction not tendons. Still good tendons help transfer force production to the bones and whilst tendon ‘hypertrophy’ may seem like a strategy to facilitate this, in reality the tendon is strong enough and more importance should be placed to the alignment of tendon fibers which requires good recovery time and recovery/repair techniques.

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        oshikake@ymail.com on #109042

        The graph is s perfect depiction of why passive tension is not a significant contributor at top speed running. At maximal speeds, the force production times approach the limit of human muscle contraction time so there is barely enough time to achieve peak tension in the whole muscle. When the muscle does activate it is better to have considerable overlap of cross bridges which implies that operating at the extreme ranges of joint movement would penalise force production. Stiffness at maximal speeds is due to muscle contraction not tendons. Still good tendons help transfer force production to the bones and whilst tendon ‘hypertrophy’ may seem like a strategy to facilitate this, in reality the tendon is strong enough and more importance should be placed to the alignment of tendon fibers which requires good recovery time and recovery/repair techniques.

        How would you conclude?, that increased flexibility (being very flexible) is beneficial to performance or vice-versa?.

        I’m on another forum, this is what one member said with regards to my training: For those who don’t understand the length / tension relationships of muscles I’d refer you to the work of Janda. I’ll quickly precis some of it for you: you need to focus on muscle length not strength. Further, it’s a system of inter-connections and there is no such thing as a free lunch.

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        JeremyRichmond on #109048

        [quote author="Jeremy Richmond" date="1310186532"]The graph is s perfect depiction of why passive tension is not a significant contributor at top speed running. At maximal speeds, the force production times approach the limit of human muscle contraction time so there is barely enough time to achieve peak tension in the whole muscle. When the muscle does activate it is better to have considerable overlap of cross bridges which implies that operating at the extreme ranges of joint movement would penalise force production. Stiffness at maximal speeds is due to muscle contraction not tendons. Still good tendons help transfer force production to the bones and whilst tendon ‘hypertrophy’ may seem like a strategy to facilitate this, in reality the tendon is strong enough and more importance should be placed to the alignment of tendon fibers which requires good recovery time and recovery/repair techniques.

        How would you conclude?, that increased flexibility (being very flexible) is beneficial to performance or vice-versa?.

        I’m on another forum, this is what one member said with regards to my training: For those who don’t understand the length / tension relationships of muscles I’d refer you to the work of Janda. I’ll quickly precis some of it for you: you need to focus on muscle length not strength. Further, it’s a system of inter-connections and there is no such thing as a free lunch.

        Bolt does dedicate to stretching, (as does everyone else). The question is, how flexible do people believe he really is?. I always associate flexibility with elasticity.[/quote]

        With all due respect Janda did say lots but didn’t prove much. However I do appreciate his theories on back pain as they have allowed with further lateral thinking for solutions to be found. In terms of muscle interconnections its comparatively simple in sprinting.

        Firstly stretching to loosen tight muscles (or likely connective tissue surrounding the muscle belly) and stretching to loosen intertwined tendon fibils is essential for good performance. Stretching to increase flexibility is almost pointless unless one has too little flexibility. Basically the premise is that one needs to have overlapping crossbridges which means one has to operate inside the limits of their range of movement. Further one should have a stiff stretch reflex which is like a natural spring; Asafa can be seen to kick his leg into extension (although not to complete extension) thus inducing the stretch reflex which pulls the leg into flexion about the knee thereby helping to generate horizontal force/velocity. The quicker one kicks the leg into extension the greater the stretch relfex response.[That’s the extent of interconnection part of sprinting]

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