Secret behind Running Speed of Elite Sprinters

Secret behind Running Speed of Elite Sprinters

Ever wondered about the secret behind the world's fastest sprinter Usain Bolt's incredible running speed? Some of you must be thinking a perfect combination of height, acceleration and strength. And, others may answer that it's his ability to move his legs more quickly than his rivals, but it seems that there's a lot more to it.

Previous studies had established that fast runners attain superfast speed by hitting the ground more forcefully than other runners do in relation to their body weight. However, how faster runners are able to do this was fully unknown. This sparked considerable debate and uncertainty about the best strategies for athletes to enhance ground-force application and speed.

But now, researchers from Southern Methodist University, Dallas suggest that the secret to elite sprinting speeds lies in the distinct limb dynamics that sprinters use to elevate ground forces upon foot-ground impact. They develop a very exclusive and distinct running pattern unlike normal runners.

The tests were conducted at SMU's Locomotor Performance Lab. Comparative analysis was done between sprinters and other fast-running athletes.

The competitive sprinting group included track athletes who specialized in the 100 and 200 metre events. They had a lot of international experience and had participated in the Olympics and Track and Field World Championships.

According to the researchers, the fastest runners decelerate their foot and ankle in just over two-hundredths of a second after initial contact with the ground.

Co-author and running mechanics expert Peter Weyand from the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory said, "The athletes cock the knee high before driving the foot into the ground, while maintaining a stiff ankle. These actions elevate ground forces by stopping the lower leg abruptly upon impact".

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