I'm a 16 year old girl and I run long distance track. I am the slowest of the 10 girls who run long distance. While my speed has improved somewhat, it doesn't compare to that of the others.
However, I noticed when I do a hip stretch on the other girls (pushing their leg back and rotating it), there's a lot of resistance and they can't even put their knee to their chest. When my hip gets stretched by the others, mine knee goes all the way to my chest and I don't feel anything. All of them tell my that I'm "so flexible". I also noticed that the girls with the most resistance (least flexibility) are the fastest.
I decided to do some research on it and have found that some articles confirm that increased flexibility leads to decreased running efficiency. What are your opinions on that? Does anyone have any personal experience with this?
I'm still going to work on getting faster, but I was curious if this was making it really hard for me to get faster, because I have a LOT of difficulty with speed, despite running for over 2 years.
I don't think being very flexible is necessary to be a fast runner. My flexibility is quite poor but does not affect my stride length, even while sprinting. Incorporating a stretch routine after your runs can be a great thing though. It can definitely help to decrease muscle soreness, and for me, stretching seems to speed up my recovery. Getting faster simply takes running a lot of miles, some speed work, and a great deal of persistence. Stretching afterwards and getting enough sleep, water, and calories will make you achieve your goals faster and easier.
As a competitive collegiate distance runner I can give you some advice:
Yes, there is a good amount of research showing that increased flexibility decreases speed/efficiency: http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2009/08/stretching-is-it-useless.html
With saying this, I do not recommend cutting out stretching entirely. Much of what the latest research is showing is that static stretching (holding the stretch for a long period) prior to exercise reduces muscle tension, thereby reducing efficiency. It is my opinion however that proper stretching can have a role, especially post-workout or later in a day for an areas that are especially tight/problematic. Pre-run stretching should generally be limited and is best done actively. (i.e walking and pulling knees towards chest rather than touching your toes for 10+ seconds).
Generally in my experience with top level runners or myself, we're much LESS flexible than the general population. There are many views on whether this is good or bad, but it does help improve muscle tension therefor increases running efficiency.
Overall though, stretching has so little to do with improving performance. It's the specific training that matters. :)
Keep on running though. Better to have muscles supporting those overly mobile joints than to let them waste.
i've noticed also that the faster runners are less flexible. I don't think i'll ever be old and crippled because of running too much and not stretching enough. i find it fun to stretch though every so often but definitely not before runs.
Flexibility doesn't affect running speed if you strength to carry it. Of course , we aren't talking about contortion. Active flexibility is preferable over passive, though passive flexibility has its place somewhere.
Range of motion accomplished without external aid, controllable my nervous system is best kind of flexibility...Improve mobility, and good flexibility will come along with it.
what you are focusing on is worthless flexibility ,at least for running purpose.