Downhill running, DOMS, and eccentric training

Downhill running, DOMS, and eccentric training

Here we’ll discuss the significance of eccentric contractions during downhill running and its contribution to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). We will also look at the effectiveness of eccentric training as part of a strength or rehabilitation training program. Most of you will be familiar with the paradoxical muscle soreness resulted from running downhill felt a few days following a training session. During a descent, the body’s running biomechanics significantly changes to facilitate a new landing pattern which acts to counteract downhill acceleration. In doing so, the quadriceps muscles in particular undergo a greater degree of eccentric muscle contraction which aids in neutralising the accelerative force component. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); What is an eccentric contraction? Although ‘contraction’ would suggest something shortening, in muscle physiology it describes the production of tension. Tension in a muscle can be produced under 3 scenarios: Muscle shortening = concentric muscle contraction Muscle lengthening = eccentric muscle contraction Muscle remaining same length =...
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Morphological and biomechanical traits of world class distance runners

Morphological and biomechanical traits of world class distance runners

According to the author of 'The Sports Gene', David Epstein, if you were to measure every runner's ankles at the start of a long distance race, you could statistically predict the likely winner. Winners of any major long distance race tend to possess particular body features. Let's run through some of these physical attributes that are distinctive in top East African runners and appear to give them the edge. Long tendon, short muscle combination Sano et al. (2012) investigated the lower leg morphology and behavior of 10 world class Kenyan distance runners and found that the group of athletes possessed a musculo-tendon morphology that is "optimized to favour efficient storage and recoil of elastic energy". This is facilitated by a significantly long achilles tendon and a short  gastrocnemius calf muscle. As a result, there is a high shortening to stretch ratio of the achilles/gastrocnemius. Meaning that a high degree of kinetic energy is stored upon lengthening, minimal ground contact time reduces dissipated...
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The Art of the Easy Run

The Art of the Easy Run

“Well that wasn’t exactly easy” “A not-so-easy run” “Meant to be easy, but got a bit carried away” These are all phrases I’ve seen time and time again on my Twitter and Strava feeds; easy runs that turned out to be a lot harder than intended.  It’s a common occurrence.  Whether it be chasing some segment, trying to beat a friend, or just a lack of discipline.  Sure, it’s not the end of the world.  If it happens every now and then it really won’t make much of a difference to your training.  But some of us are serial offenders.  Runners who hit ‘easy’ runs at a pace that’s a lot closer to their half marathon pace than a pace that’s going to aid their recovery.   I think the biggest problem is a lack of understanding – we’ve been engrained with this ‘more is better’ approach and are bombarded with quotes telling us that ‘hard work’ will get you anything you want in...
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Re-evaluating Ice Bathing

Re-evaluating Ice Bathing

The goal of ice bathing is to reduce the inflammation following a workout, which is typically viewed as a means to 'enhance' recovery. However, just because it can be effective doesn't mean that it should be used in all situations. Acute inflammation as a result of normal exercise is a very organic and necessary process for training adaptations to take place. The inflammatory response activates regenerative processes that allow adaptation to take place. Thus,  purposefully reducing inflammation may actually reduce the benefits of a session. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Expanding on the above, ice bathing takes anti-inflammatory effect through means such as: reduced nociceptor sensitivity, reduced exercise induced oedema, and altered white blood cell activity. In effect, it essentially dampens localized inflammatory activity and fluid build-up, communicating to the body that it has recovered possibly without the maximal healing response we'd want. Athletes shouldn't just hop into the tub after every hard workout, but instead should use this modality for the right reason and time...
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Hill Sprints For Distance Runners

Hill Sprints For Distance Runners

“IF YOU LEARN TO RUN LIKE A SPRINTER, YOU’LL BE A GREAT DISTANCE RUNNER” Sprints are a valuable supplement to a distance runner’s training regime, and for many elite distance running groups (especially in East Africa) they have become a staple part of training throughout the season. Sprint (pure speed) work is unique in that it offers long-term physiological benefits for distance events without the stress and sacrifice of other workouts. We’re going to be looking at the key benefits of adding sprint work (hill sprints in particular) to your training and then discussing a few easy ways to implement them.  Many distance athletes are wary of introducing sprint work into their training, as one assumes that it only offers practical benefits to sprinters as the link to distance running isn’t entirely obvious.  However, the addition of sprint training creates physiological adaptations that are not achieved through other types of training (intervals, hills, tempos, etc.).  These adaptations directly and indirectly help a runner become...
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