Event Title

Understanding the Relationship Between Flexibility and Distance Running Performance

Poster Number

019

Faculty Mentor

Joni Boyd, Ph.D.

College

College of Education

Department

Department of Physical Education, Sport, and Human Performance

Location

Rutledge Building

Start Date

12-4-2019 12:00 PM

End Date

April 2019

Description

Distance runners are known for having tight, stiff leg muscles. In many cases, this lack of flexibility spurs causes for concern from coaches and athletes alike. While poor maintenance of flexibility can lead to muscle imbalances, increased delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and injury risk, the end goal of a flexibility program should not be to increase a runner’s flexibility. The purpose of this review of literature is to demonstrate the role of flexibility in endurance running performance. The compiled research suggests that lower flexibility correlates positively with running economy in both elite and untrained populations. Running economy is defined as steady state oxygen consumption at a set submaximal velocity and is a strong performance indicator for runners with similar maximum VO2 values. Current theories suggest that muscles stiffen with chronic endurance running in order to utilize elastic energy throughout the gait cycle. Ultimately, the relationship between flexibility and endurance running suggests a fine line between performance and injury risk. Future research could evaluate the effects of a flexibility program geared toward the maintenance of bilateral flexibility and prevention of imbalances without inhibiting natural muscle stiffening long-term.

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Apr 12th, 12:00 PM Apr 30th, 2:00 PM

Understanding the Relationship Between Flexibility and Distance Running Performance

Rutledge Building

Distance runners are known for having tight, stiff leg muscles. In many cases, this lack of flexibility spurs causes for concern from coaches and athletes alike. While poor maintenance of flexibility can lead to muscle imbalances, increased delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and injury risk, the end goal of a flexibility program should not be to increase a runner’s flexibility. The purpose of this review of literature is to demonstrate the role of flexibility in endurance running performance. The compiled research suggests that lower flexibility correlates positively with running economy in both elite and untrained populations. Running economy is defined as steady state oxygen consumption at a set submaximal velocity and is a strong performance indicator for runners with similar maximum VO2 values. Current theories suggest that muscles stiffen with chronic endurance running in order to utilize elastic energy throughout the gait cycle. Ultimately, the relationship between flexibility and endurance running suggests a fine line between performance and injury risk. Future research could evaluate the effects of a flexibility program geared toward the maintenance of bilateral flexibility and prevention of imbalances without inhibiting natural muscle stiffening long-term.