Are you stiff?

Posted in Dishing the Dirt by Matt Ward on Thu 30 Dec '10

Interesting stuff this. American institute Somax’s Bob Pritchard implies in this video that the current crop of UK runners are “stiffer than the runners of 15-29 years ago”. He looks at the stride angle of the likes of Steve Cram and Steve Jones…

…and how they seemed to have better flexibility than today’s athletes. Whether or not bob is trying to sell his services or there is indeed some foundation to the studies is certainly open to debate.


Reactions so far
  1. Nick Stevens Jan 4, 01:35 PM

    Really interesting video. This is very similar to another video by Somax that I found really helpful: Now I just need to take the time to film my own running technique to see how I stack up to the pros!

  2. Rene Borg Jan 7, 08:57 AM

    Makes a lot of sense to me. My physio has worked a lot on getting flexibility in that area increased. The exercises make you feel much like Steve Cram looks in that pose and its interesting how constricted one can feel when the legs get when you pull one leg far up and let the other extend back.

    If you can feel this sort of resistance lying down, it would be logical enough that you can’t generate an ideal stride on the move. I’d blame sitting personally!

  3. Mark Smith Jan 17, 07:56 AM

    What a long advertisement!
    …All the illustrative examples we are shown of top internationals, both past and present, to get our interest; then we see the – mysteriously concealed – “treatment” done on a guy who is clearly as stiff as a board, even after having his legs worked on, and who obviously has a greater potential for improvement over 400m than would a top athlete.
    I’m not convinced that the flexibility issue is a major reason for the apparent failings of British runners. There are far too many other factors which need to be considered in any analysis of that subject: not least, the change in the cultural emphasis on physical activity and exercise that has occurred during the time-span mentioned in the video.

  4. Rene Borg Jan 19, 01:25 AM

    Agree, I would discount all the advertisement for the product itself (the claim that you cannot break down these microfibres on your own is ludicruous, there are plenty of ways to increase range of motion, although they take time) and you can even discount the particular examples (also because your stride may be different depending on how fast you are running and this is not a scientifically controlled, double-blinded measurement saying “Runner A, B, C” run 20kph for a lap).

    Likewise you cannot establish causation so liberally, and as you say, there are numerous factors at play for the decline of the West (this may be one, who knows).

    I am interested in the general point, though, because the mathematics are sound enough and you can definitely stiffen up too much in your range of motion around the hip, adductors etc.. However, you would be bound to compensate in other ways, such as increasing your stride frequency. This should still be less energy-efficient than if your stride was not constrained by your own resistance. I have taken this question to my physiotherapist and expect to have a good chat on it.

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