The effects of indoor bend running on maximal sprint velocity and lower body kinematics’
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Following reports of bias against athletes competing in the inner two lanes of an indoor athletics track, the IAAF made the decision to no longer class the 200 meters as a championship distance. The aim of this study was to investigate the differences in maximal sprint velocity between different lane conditions on an indoor 200 metre athletics track. To explain any differences that were found, step characteristics and lower body kinematics were used. Six participants who had previous sprint training were asked to take part in the study. Each participant performed three maximal velocity sprints in three different lane conditions (lane one of the bend, lane three of the bend, and the straight), and a 10 metre window was used for capture of motion analysis. Markers were placed on the body (fifth metatarsophalangeal joint of the left foot, left ankle, left knee, left hip, left shoulder and first metatarsophalangeal joint of the right foot) to collect all kinematic data, and data for the calculation of step length. The equipment used for data collection was CODAmotion (Charnwood Dynamics, Leicestershire, UK) at a sample rate of 200 Hz. A significant increase of 12.7% was seen in maximal sprint velocity in the straight condition compared to lane one, and a 4.6% increase was seen the straight condition compared to lane three. This was attributed to a change in step frequency, which increased from 3.71 Hz in lane one to 3.94 Hz in the straight condition, rather than a change in step length for which the range across all three lane conditions was 0.05 metres. Significant differences were found between all kinematic variables in the bend and straight conditions that were measured at the ankle; and between the peak joint angular velocity at the knee. Previous literature had highlighted the importance of avoiding excessive flexion of the knee during the swing phase of the step, and the findings of this study supported this idea (Mann, 1985). No differences were found between any of the kinematic variables measured at the hip. These findings indicated that the ankle was primarily responsible for the variation in sprint velocity across different lane conditions, particularly the range of motion at the joint during the step cycle. A lesser range of motion contributed to a faster sprint velocity because the time taken to complete each phase of the step would be reduced and therefore, step frequency would be improved. Less knee flexion was also shown to contribute to a faster sprint velocity, along with a greater peak positive joint angular velocity. Both of these variables would contribute to a higher step frequency if knee flexion was reduced, and peak positive joint angular velocity was improved. The findings of this study have supported the inclusion of pure speed training into a training programme. Along with speed training, plyometric training could also be introduced to help reduce ground contact time. A sprinter’s training programme may also benefit from exercises to help strengthen the ankle and reduce the amount of flexion upon ground contact. This could then be transferred across to speed training, to help increase step frequency, and overall sprint velocity in less favourable lane conditions.
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