For years, runners have believed that their sport makes them too tight and that they should turn to yoga to lengthen their muscles, become more flexible and thereby develop into better runners. It turns out, though, that the opposite may be true: Coaches and physical therapists now say that bending like Gumby may, in fact, cause problems.
“When it comes to running, flexibility is overrated,” says Steve Magness, author of “The Science of Running” and cross country coach at the University of Houston. “Research shows that if you are too flexible, you are a less efficient runner.”
As Magness explains it, our muscles and tendons are designed like springs. As our feet hit the ground during a run, those springs release stored energy and propel us forward. If the springs aren’t tight enough, they can’t do their jobs properly.
Some research has touched on this in the past, but the idea that tightness can help runners is getting a new look in this era of yoga popularity. A 2010 study of eight distance runners looked at their overall running economy relative to flexibility.
The participants performed the classic “sit and reach” test before running, and their oxygen uptake was assessed. “We saw that those who were most flexible were the least efficient,” says Tamra Llewellyn, an assistant professor of health and human performance at Nebraska Wesleyan University and a co-author of the study. “Those with lower flexibility had greater elastic energy storage in their muscles and didn’t use as much oxygen.” In other words, their muscles could do more with less, allowing them to get more out of each stride at a lower level of exertion.
Yet the perception persists that more flexibility — even as much as that of a yogi — is better for runners. “It’s a myth we’ll probably fight forever,” Magness says. “We’re all taught from a young age to stretch to improve flexibility and performance.”
More here – The Washington Post
PS: Not wishing to rain on anyone’s parade but this is something lifters have known for decades – I always knew jogging made you a bit dim…..