Home Fitness Training What is ground contact balance? 5 tips for improving running symmetry

What is ground contact balance? 5 tips for improving running symmetry

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The finest runners know that symmetry issues. When you apply drive equally on the left and proper sides of your body, you grow to be a extra environment friendlyand quickerrunner. More importantly, you’re much less vulnerable to harm.

Ground Contact Time (GCT) Balance is a metric that may assist enhance your running symmetry. 

In this text, rise up to hurry on ground contact time steadiness and see our 5 tips for improving running symmetry. 

What is ground contact time?

To perceive ground contact time steadiness, let’s start with ground contact time, or GCT for brief. This is the size of time your foot is in contact with the ground when running. For most runners, a GCT between 200 and 300 milliseconds is regular. Elite distance runners are able to sub-200ms ground contact instances.  

The ground contact portion of your running gait is also called the stance part. The stance part begins with the preliminary foot strike, continues by way of the ‘load bearing’ midstance, and ends with toe-off.  

Why does ground contact time matter?  

Running pace depends on the flexibility to use drive by way of the ground rapidly. The quicker you may apply drive by way of the ground, the faster you can be propelled ahead. 

Scientists have studied the link between ground contact time and running pace for many years. But till just lately, GCT was an inaccessible metric reserved for biomechanists in a laboratory. 

man working on running technique

Biofeedback and wearable expertise

Wearable fitness devices have revolutionzed fitness training and the way we monitor our efficiency.  Trackers and accelerometers now provide correct, real-time biofeedback for runners in every single place.And they work.

A 2020 research was the primary to assessment the consequences of wearable machine biofeedback on running biomechanics. [1] The outcomes have been constructive. Seeing GCT biofeedback diminished runners’ vertical displacement (bouncing) and running time and elevated knee flexion–key elements for efficiency and harm prevention.  

That brings us to the following evolution in biofeedback: GCT steadiness. 

What is ground contact time steadiness?

Ground contact time steadiness is the measure of how related your left and proper leg ground contact instances are. GCT steadiness is usually displayed as a share break up. A 50/50 break up is the theoretical optimum and signifies an equal GCT for each legs. In actuality, GCT steadiness is hardly ever 50/50. Anything between 49% and 51% is thought of pretty symmetrical. However, in case your GCT steadiness is past 49/51 (an imbalance of greater than 2%) the asymmetry might have an effect on your efficiency and put you prone to harm. 

Ground contact time steadiness is the measure of how related your left and proper leg ground contact instances are. 

GCT steadiness is usually displayed as a share break up. A 50/50 break up is the theoretical optimum and signifies an equal GCT for each legs.  

In actuality, GCT steadiness is hardly ever 50/50. Anything between 49% and 51% is thought of pretty symmetrical. However, in case your GCT steadiness is past 49/51 (an imbalance of greater than 2%) the asymmetry might have an effect on your efficiency and put you prone to harm. 

Why does ground contact time steadiness matter?

Some fitness tracker options are little greater than gimmicks (e.g., oxygen saturation) [2][3]. So what makes GCT steadiness any totally different? 

GCT steadiness issues as a result of symmetry issues. Elite athletes show excessive ranges of symmetry, and the quickest runners are essentially the most symmetrical. [4]

Asymmetry, however, is metabolically and biomechanically inefficient. This is as a result of one facet of your body is working more durable to compensate for the opposite.  

For environment friendly ahead movement, front-to-back (sagittal) motion is simplest. When an imbalance exists, vitality is wasted transferring your body within the frontal airplane (assume hip adduction) or transverse airplane (assume trunk rotation) to counter the asymmetry.  

For instance, if one leg is weaker or much less versatile, we are likely to compensate with extreme arm swing or trunk rotation.  

What the science says about GCT steadiness 

The International Journal of Exercise Science revealed analysis final yr on the influence of GCT imbalance on running financial system. [5] 

Remarkably, the research confirmed that for every 1% imbalance in GCT, running financial system was diminished by nearly 4%. 

To put that in perspective, for a GCT steadiness of 49/51 (the place one leg is in contact with the ground simply 2% longer than the opposite), the vitality required to run on the identical pace is 7.4% higher. 

For a 70kg runner at 15km/hr, this could improve oxygen consumption by ~4ml.kg.min. That’s an enormous chunk of your V̇O2 max. 

The science is unclear in regards to the extent to which asymmetry causes harm. [6] Anecdotally, nevertheless, any weak spot on one facet is prone to put further pressure on different muscle tissue and joints, placing you prone to additional harm. [7]  

In brief, balancing the time you spend on every foot issues for stopping harm and improving financial system and efficiency.  

Here are 5 Tips for improving running symmetry and ground contact time steadiness 

1. Identify the asymmetry 

Use the GCT steadiness metric to determine which leg is slower. The leg with the upper GCT steadiness share (>50) is spending extra time in contact with the ground. The slower leg is the one to work on.  

Test the asymmetry by performing a stretch or exercise on every leg. This will provide help to establish variations in strength, steadiness and suppleness. 

  • How lengthy are you able to stand on every leg along with your eyes closed?   
  • Does your knee flip in on one facet throughout a lunge?  
  • How far does every leg attain when mendacity in your again and stretching your hamstring? 

woman identifying her muscle asymmetry

2. Address previous accidents 

In many circumstances, asymmetries stem from previous accidents. The ache or weak spot of 1 injured body half can result in overcompensation in others. Asymmetry turns into a vicious cycle of overcompensation, inflicting additional weak spot on the injured facet because of underuse.   

Use GCT steadiness biofeedback to right asymmetry when recovering from harm, or to retrain after adaptation to previous accidents.

3. Strengthen muscle

To enhance running symmetry and overcome imbalances in ground contact time, concentrate on growing muscular strength and energy.  

Single leg (unilateral) exercises like lunges and calf raises are efficient at growing your weaker leg and stop the dominant leg from taking up. 

4. Optimise flexibility and stiffness

Inflexibility because of harm (from scar tissue for instance) will increase the probability of asymmetry. Include flexibility training in your schedule to beat harm associated tightness. 

Your vary of movement needs to be particular to your exercise. You don’t want a gymnast’s flexibility to run lengthy distances. In truth, a sure diploma of ‘tightness’ might even improve efficiency. [8]  

A latest research confirmed that runners naturally adapt leg stiffness and ground contact time to optimise running financial system. [9] A stiffer leg spring will return extra vitality after compression.  

Incorporate single leg plyometric exercises into your programme to reinforce leg spring stiffness and shorten ground contact time. 

5. Vary terrain 

Running over monotonous terrain can exacerbate asymmetry. Try running over rough ground and quite a lot of gradients to reinforce proprioception, steadiness and strength. 

If you run on a monitor, alternate between clockwise and anticlockwise laps to keep away from asymmetry because of leaning into the curve. [10][4] 

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