Competitors who can travel faster than their opponents have a distinct advantage. For instance, a faster athlete may be able to get to a ball more speedily than a challenger or may even outpace a pursuer. And so, athletes in most sports place quite a bit of importance on speed. Speed is frequently quantified by using linear (straight-line) sprinting over an expanse between 37 and 91 metres (40 and 100 yards).
Linear sprinting is a bodily skill that most people have executed since their second year of life with some degree of adeptness. For years, many trainers thought that linear speed was generally related to genetics and could not be considerably improved by training. However, suitable training does cultivate running speed, even at the elite level. The amalgamation of stride rate (the number of strides per unit of time) and stride length (the distance covered in a single stride) principally governs linear speed. Thus, athletes can expand upon linear speed by improving stride rate while preserving stride length, increasing stride length while sustaining stride rate, or doing a mixture of both.
Another vital factor contributing to optimum speed is joint flexibility. To elaborate on this notion, if the hamstrings are disproportionately tight, sportspersons may not be able to bring the knee up as high for the period of the recovery point of sprinting, thereby hampering hip flexion and speed. Likewise, tight hip flexors may limit the ability to lengthen the hip through the full required range of motion, thereby tumbling power output during the ‘triple-extension’ period of propulsion. Apt flexibility of the involved joints subsidises movements that are more fluid and synchronised, resulting in longer and faster strides and greater speed.
Kinetic bands address all of these dimensions that allow for optimum running speed. These are bands that one attaches to each leg, above the knee, and are colour-coded for varying degrees of intensity. These types of bands are repeatedly used by athletic trainers and are also used in physical therapy to fortify fast-twitch muscle fibres (those responsible to power production, leading to greater stride length and rate) and for skill development via sport-specific drills. As a result, strengthening these muscle fibres will improve one’s overall athletic performance. Furthermore, kinetics bands can facilitate various types of stretching (enabling greater degrees of flexibility), improving stamina, agility, and proprioception.
- Cissik, J.M. (2004). Means and Methods of Speed Training, Part I. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 26(4), 24-29
- Enoka, R. (2002). Neuromechanics of Human Movement (3rd edition). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
- Flynn, T.W., & Soutas-Little, R.W. (1993). Mechanical Power and Muscle Action during Forward and Backward Running. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 17(2), 108-112.
- Myers, Jasmine. "Kinetic Bands." Web. 7 May 2013. <http://exercise.lovetoknow.com/Kinetic_Bands