Craib, M. W., Mitchell, V. A., Fields, K. B., Cooper, T. R., Hopewell, R., & Morgan, D. W. (1996). The association between flexibility and running economy in sub-elite male distance runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 28, 737-743.

The purpose of this study was to examine the association between nine measures of limb and trunk flexibility and running economy. Within a week before running economy assessment, and after 10 min of jogging at 3.13 m/sec, trained male sub-elite distance runners (N = 19) underwent two complete sets of lower limb and trunk flexibility assessments. Ss then completed two 10-minute running economy assessment sessions on consecutive days at 4.13 m/sec following two 30-minute sessions of treadmill accommodation at 4.13 m/sec.

Dorsiflexion (r = 0.65) and standing hip rotation (r = 0.53) were significantly associated with the mean aerobic demand of running, such that less flexible runners were more economical. Although speculative, these results suggest that inflexibility in certain areas of the musculoskeletal system may enhance running economy by increasing storage and return of elastic energy and minimizing the need for muscle-stabilizing activity.

Implication. Running economy needs natural tightness in lower leg muscles and connective tissues to maximize the storage and return of elastic energy and reduce the need for stabilizing activity.

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