Good Information: Flexion Inspection (Sitting Is The New Smoking), When to Stop Strength Training (Part of Tapering for a Race), Running Technique

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There are so many knowledgable people out there putting out good information. Here’s a little bit that I’ve found recently.

Kinetic Revolution: Better hip flexion for better running plus overcoming our sitting habit

If you’re a runner or triathlete then you should definitely check out Kinetic Revolution. The author is James Dunne and he’s a rehab and biomechanics expert. His recent post is Flexion Inspection: How Long Do You Sit Down Each Day? He discusses the perils of setting, namely tight hip flexors that inhibit the glutes and thus limit your hip extension. He makes two suggestions:

1. Record Your Time Spent Sitting For 1 Week

This is Claire’s brilliant idea… I had to share it!

Keep a simple diary. Much like a food diary, but recording the time you spend sitting down every day. Every single form of seated activity, from working at a desk to cycling.

If you’re anything like me, the results will be ALARMING.

2. Offset Time Spent In Flexion With Specific Extension Exercises

I’m a realist. I get that much of 21st century living requires sitting – not to mention the leisure activities we engage in. Cycling for instance.

I usually suggest for every two hours spent in a flexion pattern, athletes should get up, and spend 5mins working on extension exercises such as hip flexor stretches and glute activations.

And he explains a hip flexor stretch progression here

I can’t really resist posting this video so we’ll meander away from running technique for a moment. Nilofer Merchant gives a TED talk on this dreadful sitting habit we have. She even suggests that perhaps walking while talking may drive creative thinking:

Sweat Science: When is the ideal time to cease strength training?

If you’re a runner who strength trains (And if you’re a runner, you should strength train.) then this piece from Alex Hutchinson’s Sweat Science column at Runner’s World is very much up your alley. It’s titled When to Stop Strength Training. He discusses research from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Here’s the big rock you should know (emphasis is mine):

What you’re looking at is the change in muscular power after resistance training was halted, based on meta-analysis of 103 studies. Note that power is different from absolute strength — power is your ability to deliver large amounts of force in a short period of time, which is often more relevant to athletic performance than plain strength is. And the interesting thing to note is that, 8 to 14 days after stopping, power appears to be a little higher than it was during training, though it’s not statistically significant. (The graph for strength, which I didn’t show, starts declining immediately.)

Speculation aside, if you’re an endurance athlete who includes resistance training in your regimen, you have to eliminate or reduce it at some point before race day. The graph above suggests that one to two weeks in advance might be an interesting time to stop.

 Running technique & mirror neurons: Watch and learn

Humans are visually-oritented people. We primarily learn by watching and imitating others around us. (Why did you ever decide to walk?  Did someone propose the idea to you? Did you come upon the idea of walking from a book you read? No. You decided to give walking a shot because you looked around and saw a bunch of other people doing it.) Mirror neurons are the specialized structures in our nervous system that enable our learn-by-watching process.

The cool thing is that we can improve our skills by watching other people do things. I’ve watched skiing videos to improve my turns and I’ve watched mountain biking videos to improve my switchback riding. We can improve our running technique the same way.

There are a lot of youtube videos out there on running technique and I’ve found a couple that are fairly informative and somewhat entertaining. These videos are a slightly funny compliation of 80s instructional video, current running analysis and in one clip we see vintage black & white footage of the great Roger Bannister, the man who first broke the 4-minute-mile barrier.

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