By Janda Ricci-Munn
My last training tip dove into the subject of biomechanical efficiency and its impact upon performance. For those of you looking for a quick refresher on some of the common biomechanical issues that I must address when working with triathletes and runners, refer back to the vlog post section of the Landice blog. For those of you already familiar with these videos, read on!
There is no disputing the fact that a high degree of biomechanical efficiency not only leads to better athletic performance but to a reduced risk for training and racing related injuries as well. As stated in my last post however, attaining and maintaining a high degree of biomechanical efficiency with your chosen sport is not something that comes without practice. Although activities such as running may be considered to be non-technical in nature, the reality is that many runners can and will improve their performance by as much as 10% by devoting more time and energy to the improvement of their running mechanics. Watch just about any world class runner and you’ll notice how effortlessly they move when running at high rates of speed. Check out this very exciting 2+ minute clip of elite distance runner, Chris Solinsky, breaking the American 10k record this past spring. Chris was the first non-African runner to break the 27 minute barrier (roughly 4:20/mile pace for 6.2 miles) for 10k.
Unlike his African counterparts, who are typically 30 – 40 lbs. lighter, Solinsky weighs about 160 lbs. which is considered “massive” by elite distance running standards! In addition to his tremendous work ethic and natural ability, Solinsky owes much of his success to his very high degree of biomechanical efficiency. Note how smooth he looks as he closes the final ½ mile of his record setting run at sub 4 min/mile pace; most people would struggle to hold that pace for 50 meters!
So what do I have do to increase my biomechanical efficiency you ask?
The first thing to understand is that your neurological system plays the most important role in your mastery of any physical movement. In order for movement to occur, the brain sends a series of signals through the nerves that connect to the various muscle fibers you recruit when executing the beginning stages of any given movement. Activated muscles, in turn, contract and pull on the bones that they are attached to. As such, movement occurs. To learn more about the neuromuscular relationship, check out this article from “Brain Connection.”
Mastery of a simple activity, say, a dumbbell curl, is very easily achieved since relatively few nerves, muscles and bones are involved in the movement pattern. Running, however, involves a much more complex series of movement patterns that utilize nearly every bone, muscle and nerve in the upper and lower body! Suddenly, running doesn’t seem so non-technical in nature now does it?!
When approaching your training, particular attention must be paid to the honing of the specific neuromuscular patterns that will increase your degree of biomechanical efficiency; but in order to fully understand which components of your biomechanics require attention, you must be evaluated and this is where video analysis comes into play! Stay tuned for more examples of how video analysis can effectively be used to help you on the running economy front.