Short achilles tendons for faster sprinting

According to this study, it would appear that having shorter Achilles tendons may be more advantageous to a sprinter than having long Achilles tendons, which is the opposite of what many people believe.

I do not agree with your summary Neospeed. What is stated in the study is that the “trained” sprinters in the study had shorter achilles then the non-sprinter control group (and the length discrepancy was smaller after MRI evaluation). What this study, similar to most, fails at accomplishing is demonstrating the morphobiomechanical specifics of the most elite sprinters in the world compared to what ever non-sprinter control group.

Careful to not fall prey to generalizations that emerge from studies such as whatever “trained” sprinters were measured at a northern state school whose all time record in the men’s 100m is 10.34 set forty two years ago in 1975.

Imagine if physicists conjectured gravitational predictions on Jupiter based solely upon measurements taken on earth.

This study could only have validity if the same findings were made on:
[li]Usain Bolt
[/li][li]Tyson Gay
[/li][li]Justin Gatlin
[/li][li]Asafa Powell
[/li][li]Yohan Blake
[/li][li]Ben Johnson
[/li][li]Nesta Carter
[/li][li]Donovan Bailey

and so on

Fair enough, but at least it may show that having short Achilles tendons is not necessarily a bad thing for a sprinter to have. It would not entitle a coach or therapist to tell a sprinter that they will never make it to the elite level because of their short Achilles tendons. I’ve come across coaches and physiotherapists who have stated that it is an advantage for sprinters to have long Achilles tendons, but this study found this not to be the case.

Note the statement in this study
"It should be noted that the correlations between muscle-tendon structure and performance described in these studies do not imply clear causal relationships between structure and function. Such correlations are not always found; one recent investigation found almost no structural differences between very good sprinters and great ones.

Serious statistical studies are best achieved by solid study methods. I always like to see the size of populations and the analysis methods.
Therefore highly targeted populations eg - elite sprinters / good sprinters / healthy non sprinting runners / healthy non runners / sedentary populations and so on.
Assessment of the effects of genetics versus training. For example has Usain Bolt always had a short/long tendon or has it developed during training. And so on …

An alternative approach is testing using randomised large scale populations.

There are of course mutiple reasons for people being fast/slow and tendon length is possibly one of a large number - and may just be a coincidence. And minor compared to others.

Consider the amount of research that has been proved as plain wrong : We are becoming more overweight because we are less active not because we eat more. Oh dear, we just noticed people are eating 30-40% more calories because we forgot to add in grazing and high cal drinks.
Fat is bad for you, or is it calories, or is it carbs.
Bond and equity prices move in opposite directions - er not always.
How do you get rich on the financial markets - take the opposite position to Lagarde and Blanchard …
Fusion reactors, particles travelling at faster than the speed of light under the Italian mountains (shame about the speedometer).

What causes poor science: My simplification :
Political and economic theories - people are inclined to take positions that suit their views.
Scientific - university plaudits come from research not undergraduate teaching.

I came across an interesting interview regarding sport science from Champion Magazine spring of 1987.

I will post the entire interview on my blog.

Interviewer " The high performance athlete of today has considerably more support that you did when you were competing in the early 1970’s" competitive opportunities, state of the art facilities and sport science came to mind. What would you say are the most significant differences between then and now?"

Charlie “First of all, sport science is a meaningless discussion. All that sport scientists are trying to do is validate what everyone knows already. The real question is are you going to give the athletes all the support they need?”…

Indeed. And can anyone name significant elite level athletics coaches with a substantial background in sports science …

Indeed, any coach who summarily dismisses an athlete solely on the basis of anthropemetric/morphobiomechanical evaluation (barring something extreme such as an obese 130kg person who seeks gold in the 100m) should be immediately relieved of their coaching position.

That said, there is no refuting the laws of mechanics. So when the day comes, which may not be far off, when we can fully engineer humans, it is highly probable that all humans engineered for sprinting will be analogs of each other and all share relatively long Achilles tendons in common; along with a host of other traits (thicker tendons, white fiber dominant, smaller hips, proportionally longer legs and shorter torsos…)

In truth, it needn’t be one or the other. Charlie was a unicorn in so far as his keen sense, intuition, intelligence, dedication, and so on, which afforded him the “software” that subverted the need for what other coaches depend upon technologically and academically.

The real problem is that formal coaching education and sport science are Balkanized from one another and much of formal coaching education is flawed in its design. The solution is the unification of both realms into one in which the sum is an objectively competent/qualified coach.

There can be absolutely no argument against the fact that any coach would greatly benefit from a deeper, objective, scientific understanding of the fields relevant to their discipline. This would have applied equally to Charlie as anyone else.

The rub is what each coach possesses independent from their learned knowledge which is namely cognitive ability and psycho-behavioral qualities. As it regards Charlie, and as I’ve written, I only had the opportunity to meet and speak with him in person on one occasion, and one other time on the phone, and my take coming away from speaking with him in person was that Charlie was of genius intellect.

The combination of that sort of cognitive ability coupled with relevant knowledge developed by what Charlie was able to criticize and conjecture based upon what he learned from Percy Duncan, Gerard Mach, and others, resulted in the perfect storm of Charlie.

I would conjecture that athletics coaches such as Dan Pfaff, Boo Schexnayder, Randy Huntington, Anatoliy Bondarchuk, and dozens of foreign coaches whose names are not in the limelight, have an excellent working understanding of various sport scientific domains. As to whether their knowledge was gained in formal academic circles or not is absolutely meaningless.

Esa “Basi car lee” Peltola :).

Practical experience + scientific knowledge is optimum/essential, I was not suggesting otherwise. Merely questioning the value of the rigour and value of some of the sports science research. Historic tendency seems to be for successful coaches to be smart people (graduate level) who graft necessary scientific knowledge on to practical sports experience as a competitor. Rather than the other way round of sports science first.

Will be interesting to see if the growth in sports science graduate level education will result in greater numbers of them reaching high level athletic positions. My suspicion is that the absolute top level coaches will remain the hybrid type, and where finance supports the model, the addition of sports science experts in targeted scientific sub specialities such as biomechanics analysis etc.

Ironically, experience is incredibly over rated as it is not the conduit for the creation of new knowledge (not just scientific knowledge, but any new kind of knowledge). I’ve spoken and written about this at great lengths so I won’t do it again here. If you’re interested in this subject feel free to contact me privately and I’d strongly encourage you to explore the work of physicist David Deutsch.

I disagree. We suffer from the absence of an overall and precise scientifically proven genetic profile of optimum sprinting genetics, which strengths/weaknesses are trainable and scientific methods of measuring training inputs versus outcomes. Therefore empirical methods/experience are significant tools.
To use a physics analogy we coach in a world of dark matter, inferring a theory from related observations. Not a Newtonian world where i understand the maths !
When/if we get a bill gates/mark zuckerberg type of disruptor in sport or the above we will also see experience being less important.

As it regards sprinting, all that need be known genetically is discoverable and merely requires a broad enough diagnosis of the morphobiomechanical commonalities shared between the world’s elite (given their cooperation which is the current limiting factor).

I agree that that all that need be known, while also discoverable, is yet to be known regarding the most optimal means by which any given sprinter with the requisite genetics might be prepared.

Perhaps where we must remain in disagreement regards the role experience plays in the process as it plays none in the realm of the discovery of new knowledge.

Regarding your physics analogy, true though it is that Newtonian mechanics do not get you to quantum mechanics, the problem is that observations, same as experience, cannot be a stand alone. As if one were to operate solely on the basis of what is observed, progress would be impossible.

As for the disruptor in sport, google “The Governing Dynamics of Coaching”.

Ideally a team works best when it comes to getting a result in most things.

If biomechanics specialists work together with the coaches and the therapist the ideal can occur in theory.

Jamie and Waldamar and Charlie and SuperMike each had a voice. Charlie referred to each and together decisions were made. Usually data from one was supported by the other.

I also coach people to try and learn as much as they can from whom ever they go and see. Maybe it’s valid and maybe it’s not. Maybe you as the athlete or coach know more or maybe you don’t know as much. Be prepared to learn something unless you know everything. The people I’ve learned the most from are the people that stick to what they know or are prepared to be wrong.

I think the idea of retro fitting science into things that have been known is interesting. Does not mean we don’t need science.

The comment about short achilles tendons for faster sprinting reminds me of a few things.

I remember Charlie commenting on Donavan very early on and he said he had zero calves. He needed to change that and proper running and training would fix that. ( Charlie’s original title for “Speed Trap” was Looks right, flies right. Meaning, it a body looks anatomically correct for sprinting in terms of proportions it will “fly” correctly.

Another comment Charlie made was how Angella’s foot struck the ground and how Angella’s eldest daughter had the exact same favoroble strike pattern for running fast. It had to do with the length of the foot, the length of the limbs and according to Charlie anatomically favorable for running fast.

Doctors have no right to tell a person they are going to die.

Coaches are not any different.

Teachers have no right to tell a student they are stupid or they will never make anything of themselves.

Yes, Neospeed offering advice is just that. Advice. The idea really is about shared knowledge and trust and not brainwashing.

Story telling is valuable but as soon as something becomes judgement based that becomes something different IMO.

Well now we begin discussing something entirely different. Horse racing is a good analogy because they are animals where lots of money is exchanged within this sport. Interestingly Track and Field has borrowed ideas from horse racing. Owners of horses use lasers, hot and cold and get massages and infra red therapy. Horses are selected based on how they look and size and dimension of limbs etc.

Speaking of a completely unrelated subject…

Angela, there is way too much to objectively criticize regarding horse racing, both on moral/ethical grounds as well professional regarding the incompetence that is as rampant amongst horse trainers, perhaps even more so, as coaches of any human sport. Thus, I’d surmise the the proportion of track coaches who have borrowed ideas from equine training is likely to be proportional to the misguidedness that may be objectively identified in those track coaches methods.

Using horse racing for any positive analogy is, in my view, tantamount to attempting to find some positive analogy in what some slave owner’s tactics were to select and sustain slaves in the 1700s.

I state that because in 2015 alone there were 484 fatalities associated with training and competition Same as slavery, this is an inhumane abomination in any court of intellectual/moral/ethical honesty and if a mere proportion of that carnage were to occur in track and field or any other human sport we’d be sure to observe an immediate reckoning.

It’s astounding actually, that many people who would vilify cock fighting and dog fighting might be the same people cheering for their favorite horse; evidently completely oblivious that it’s all the same abhorrence.

Back to the subject, invariably, a comprehensive study (psychological, neurophysiological, biological, mechanical…) done on the world’s elite sprinters will reveal all that need be known regarding selection, still leaving all factors relating to coaching to discuss.

It’s my feeling that this study may never occurr, as interesting as it would be.

Are you a vegan?