Usain Bolt’s uneven stride and the NY Times; does symmetry matter in shorter distance sprinters?
In 2012, I reported on Usain Bolt’s 200-meter race during the Olympics and how he slowed down around the curve to prevent a back issue. He still won that race but did not set any records.
After writing this blog, he published his memoir which explained that he was treated by a chiropractor for years who helped him overcome childhood scoliosis and become the fastest sprinter in history to date.
The NY Times recently published an article concerning his uneven gait and how he was able to use it to win races. Researchers at Southern Methodist University were among the leading experts on the biomechanics of sprinting, said they found something unexpected during a video examination of Bolt’s stride: His right leg appears to strike the track with about 13 percent more peak force than his left leg. And with each stride, his left leg remains on the ground about 14 percent longer than his right leg.
While I do not quite have that reputation, or the equipment to justify one, when looking at our evaluation, you can clearly see he was under and overstriding on the track in 2012, especially if you saw the video from the television station that looked from the top down.
The conventional wisdom suggests that asymmetry will slow a runner down, however, sprinters run on their toes and apparently Usain was able to use this uneven force to his advantage.
Could it be that his uneven stride was a compensation for his scoliosis, and he appeared to master the ability to distribute weight to his advantage during a race?
This recent article from the New York Times looks at the current research and offers some scientific suggestions behind the worlds fastest runner
Something Strange in Usain Bolt’s Stride
Bolt is the fastest sprinter ever in spite of — or because of? — an uneven stride that upends conventional wisdom.
By JERÉ LONGMANJULY 20, 2017
DALLAS — Usain Bolt of Jamaica appeared on a video screen in a white singlet and black tights, sprinting in slow motion through the final half of a 100-meter race. Each stride covered nine feet, his upper body moving up and down almost imperceptibly, his feet striking the track and rising so rapidly that his heels did not touch the ground.
Bolt is the fastest sprinter in history, the world-record holder at 100 and 200 meters and the only person to win both events at three Olympics. Yet as he approaches his 31st birthday and retirement this summer, scientists are still trying to fully understand how Bolt achieved his unprecedented speed.