DR.ROMANOV'S ARTICLES Dr.Romanov has written many articles. Easy to read and understand, these articles will help you understand Pose Method® better and will introduce you to a new approach to running and training.
June 17, 2004
Flexibility and Running
Misunderstanding and Falseness
by Dr. Nicholas Romanov
Mr. Mick Wilkinson and Mr. Alun Williams’ article advocates the inverse relationship between flexibility and running economy. In layman terms, it means that we don’t need flexibility in running, and even more, it is bad to have good flexibility. They support their conclusion with some research data suggesting that inflexibility of the ankle in dorsiflexion could reduce energy expenditure by enhancing of elastic energy storage and return in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. This goes on up to the nonsense of “an increased relative stretch of tight hamstrings in the forward swing of the leg may store elastic energy that can be used to pull the body over the limb and propel the runner forwards, thus saving on active muscle contractions”.
The last statement has completely false biomechanical sense, because what the authors describe is impossible to execute and you can easily check it out by trying to do it in recommended position. Hamstrings are not capable of doing what the authors intend to ask them to. It is a typical illusion about running technique of quite a large group of coaches and scientists, coming from a certain lack of knowledge of biomechanics and a wrong assumption about logic of movement in running.
At the end the authors are avoiding any radical conclusions and come up with a more gentle suggestion “that runners with normal levels of flexibility should avoid flexibility training designed specifically to increase the range of motion around a joint, particularly when targeted at the muscles limiting external hip rotation, the calf/soleus complex and hamstrings.
I couldn’t agree even with this carefully worded conclusion because it leads us in the wrong direction, attempting to show a non-existing conflict between biomotor abilities. I can bring lots of examples from martial arts, ballet, dance, track and field, weight lifting, sumo wrestling, etc. to illustrate that well developed flexibility is never an issue in these sports requiring flexibility, elasticity and strength as part of their high level of skills. Look at animal world and you can see how flexible, elastic and enduring they are, and you’ll be aware about falseness of the previous statement.
In order to develop our skills we need to develop all our biomotor abilities, with a proper understanding of their relations, without opposing them to each other. Do not confuse flexibility with lack of specific coordination. As it happened in this case, some runners with good flexibility lacked proper neuro-muscular coordination in some specific areas, which was interpreted as inversely related to running economy. There it would be more appropriate to talk about specific coordination and economy rather then flexibility and economy. This, in my humble opinion, is the issue of the problem, but not having too much flexibility. You can’t have too much of a good thing, really.
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