The importance of symmetry to help avoid injury

Off
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System


In last week’s blog we looked at how analysis of Usain Bolt’s running style had challenged the general assumption that a symmetric running gait was essential for speed in sprinting. While this particular theory on symmetry may have taken a hit from the success of the multiple Olympic champion, that is not to suggest that an attempt to achieve symmetry is now a waste of time. Having a symmetric running action – or at least making every effort to achieve it – is still vital for an athlete and one of the main reasons is that achieving this balanced style is key in preventing injuries. This issue is dealt with in The Effect of Asymmetry On Running Performance and Injury Prevention where Ian McMahan reminds us that

A lack of symmetry, that is relative differences in muscle strength, motion, flexibility, balance, and mechanics between sides of the body, is one element often highlighted as a risk factor for injury

He looks at the work of Jay Dicharry, a physical therapist and running biomechanics expert, who has written extensively on the need for symmetry:-

Running requires mobility, stability, strength, and power. While how much is enough depends on the individual, I strive to have all my athletes within 5 percent in terms of symmetry across the board

Don’t run on one leg – you have two for a reason

Dicharry’s view is that asymmetry does not in itself cause injury but it leads to issues in running gait that can cause injuries. The difficulty in assessing problems is that at times asymmetry-related problems may occur in the other side of the body, as he explains:-

Sometimes it’s a runner’s poor right hip stability that allows their knee to rotate excessively, and that drives their chronic right knee pain. But other times, their poor right hip stability may introduce an imbalance that actually winds up in a limp and thus stressing the other leg, causing symptoms in the left side


While he acknowledges that our own physical make-up in terms of strength of one side of the body or part of the body have an influence on symmetry he feels that measures can be taken to address this problem.

It’s not OK to simply take note of these differences. Runners should take time to improve them if they hope to influence injury risk and performance … I don’t advocate running on one leg, you have two of them for a reason

Take action to improve running gait

The importance of taking positive action to develop a more symmetric running gait is highlighted in
Gait Retraining: Rehabilitating and Reducing the Recurrence of Running Specific Injuries which outlines research by Dr Irene Davis of the Spaulding National Running Center at Harvard University that gait retraining can be effective in rehabilitating certain injuries. Two studies were carried out on different individuals using different methods of analysis and illustrated that pain was eliminated by making adjustments to the athlete’s gait.

The above two studies, along with others, demonstrate that gait patterns can be changed. Dr. Davis points out that there is still much work to be done in this area. More research is needed to determine the optimal gait retraining protocols for the most effective results. More follow up studies are required to test the permanence of gait related changes and their influence on future injury incidence

Tips for better symmetry

The extensive research that went into helping both athletes in the aforementioned studies is not available to most athletes outside the elite category, but for those who want to take measures to improve their gait and reduce the risk of injury there are many options available. Among those offering expert advice is Jay Dicharry in 3 Keys To Running With Better Form who makes the following recommendations.

1. Keep your stride tight
You want to land as close as you can to your body for a given speed. Everyone is worried about cadence – and cadence matters to a degree – but what’s more important is your stride length. If you’re running at a slower pace, you will have a shorter stride length and as running speed increases, your stride length should increase as well. Think of your body like a pendulum: As that stride length increases, you want it to increase not just at the front side, but also the back side. One of the problems a lot of people make is that when they start running faster and faster, their stride starts to only increase from the front side. That’s because they don’t have a lot of hip extension. So, we’re always talking about how to get people more hip extension range – passively – and also teaching them how to use that hip extension range so you can keep that swinging pendulum close to the body.

2. Drive from the hips
From taking measurements on the people that come into our lab, we’ve found that about 82 percent of runners don’t have enough hip extension, and again, that’s a passive length, and you can get that from stretching. But our research has shown if you stretch your hip flexors, and you get more range, people don’t actually take that new range and integrate into their gait, but they think they do. So the idea is being able to use range since it’s really critical. Drive from the hips, and driving from the hips means you extend the back and don’t cheat your lumbar spine. People run into problems all the time, even those who have pretty good body awareness, and they default to bad habits. The second you break your posture alignment, you basically lose the ability to activate your hips, so we need to make sure we keep that solid.

3. Develop good tendon strength
It’s important to develop a robust tendon stiffness, and that comes from doing explosive types of drills. But to take people who have never run before and just have them jump into a bunch of explosive plyos is a great way to get people hurt.

Nobody is perfectly symmetrical but looking at your imbalances and adjusting for them can help you avoid injuries and even improve your performance.

References

The Effect of Asymmetry On Running Performance and Injury Prevention by Ian McMahan

3 Keys To Running With Better Form by Jay Dicharry

Gait Retraining: Rehabilitating and Reducing the Recurrence of Running Specific Injuries by Matt Phillips

Spaulding National Running

About Metrifit

Metrifit is an athlete monitoring system that gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches and athletes in a simple but effective manner with intelligent visualization helping coaches and athletes to act on that data. Why not have a look at our Ready to Perform product and gain insight on the physical and mental state of your athletes through our daily wellbeing questionnaire? To find out more visit our Metrifit Product Overview page or get in touch for a free demo. If you live in Ireland, we are currently running competition in partnership with Fyffes Ireland with some great prizes including a year’s free use of Metrifit for your team. You can enter online here.

 

Metrifit

Fyffes

"What’s more impressive is the ability to utilize the basics but at the same time have the capability to explore detailed and intricate correlative data points that helps us as coaches gain the most from our athletes. Metrifit has also served as an easy communications hub to ensure essential information is passed to the appropriate team. We are excited to what the future from Metrifit will bring."

Michael Torres

CEO, Shift Performance, Miami

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T14:09:22+00:00

Michael Torres

CEO, Shift Performance, Miami

"What’s more impressive is the ability to utilize the basics but at the same time have the capability to explore detailed and intricate correlative data points that helps us as coaches gain the most from our athletes. Metrifit has also served as an easy communications hub to ensure essential information is passed to the appropriate team. We are excited to what the future from Metrifit will bring."
“Metrifit has become a multifactorial platform that has helped up us provide deeper context to the decisions that we make on a daily basis in regards to the physical development of our student-athletes. We have intimately been utilizing both the subjective wellness questionnaire along with player training load data to drive professional conversation and actionable tasks to enhance the sporting results and quality of life for our student-athletes with unparalleled success.”

Kevin Schultz
Associate Director of Strength & Conditioning
Director of Olympic Strength & Conditioning
University of Wisconsin

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-20T12:12:33+00:00

Kevin Schultz
Associate Director of Strength & Conditioning
Director of Olympic Strength & Conditioning
University of Wisconsin

“Metrifit has become a multifactorial platform that has helped up us provide deeper context to the decisions that we make on a daily basis in regards to the physical development of our student-athletes. We have intimately been utilizing both the subjective wellness questionnaire along with player training load data to drive professional conversation and actionable tasks to enhance the sporting results and quality of life for our student-athletes with unparalleled success.”
"The success of young athletes using Metrifit was an interesting challenge in the Elite Soccer space… After six months of learning, creating habit with teenagers the project is a huge success…. 90% completion rate has allowed us deal with all the key KPI’s that are needed in their development. In our space with developing athletes…Metrifit is a godsend and is the most important tool in this space."

Niall O’Driscoll

Academy Directory, SJ.B (St. Joseph’s Bray ) Academy

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T16:51:01+00:00

Niall O’Driscoll

Academy Directory, SJ.B (St. Joseph’s Bray ) Academy

"The success of young athletes using Metrifit was an interesting challenge in the Elite Soccer space… After six months of learning, creating habit with teenagers the project is a huge success…. 90% completion rate has allowed us deal with all the key KPI’s that are needed in their development. In our space with developing athletes…Metrifit is a godsend and is the most important tool in this space."
"Metrifit is an integral part of the set up within the senior and intermediate inter-county Camogie.  The data collected daily on the individual players is critical to the decision making of the backroom team including, managers, trainers, selectors, physiotherapist and indeed myself. As a nutritionist it allows me to monitor the quality of the player’s diet, energy levels, sleep pattern and overall wellbeing."

Yvonne Treacy

Nutritionist, Wexford Camogie

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-13T16:38:55+00:00

Yvonne Treacy

Nutritionist, Wexford Camogie

"Metrifit is an integral part of the set up within the senior and intermediate inter-county Camogie.  The data collected daily on the individual players is critical to the decision making of the backroom team including, managers, trainers, selectors, physiotherapist and indeed myself. As a nutritionist it allows me to monitor the quality of the player’s diet, energy levels, sleep pattern and overall wellbeing."
"Gaelic football is an intermittent high-intensity collision-based field sport requiring high levels of endurance, strength, power, agility, and speed as well as proficiency with gaelic-related skills. These components comprise the training modalities used at the elite level and the monitoring of such a vast range of modalities is central to peak performance. The athlete monitoring tool Metrifit allows us to do this and can keep us one step ahead of our competitors."

Jason McGahan

Sports Scientist, Kildare Football, PhD Sports Science Researcher

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:23:50+00:00

Jason McGahan

Sports Scientist, Kildare Football, PhD Sports Science Researcher

"Gaelic football is an intermittent high-intensity collision-based field sport requiring high levels of endurance, strength, power, agility, and speed as well as proficiency with gaelic-related skills. These components comprise the training modalities used at the elite level and the monitoring of such a vast range of modalities is central to peak performance. The athlete monitoring tool Metrifit allows us to do this and can keep us one step ahead of our competitors."
"The holistic approach of medical, physical, emotional and even tech/tactical; bringing together what we need to monitor and evaluate our University players. “If you can’t measure it – it doesn’t exist.” I know we were the first Canadian University to use the program and I know many more will be asking for it in the future! I highly recommend Metrifit."

Tino Fusco, B.Sc. ChPC

Head Coach, Women's Soccer, Mount Royal University (Canada)

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:25:37+00:00

Tino Fusco, B.Sc. ChPC

Head Coach, Women's Soccer, Mount Royal University (Canada)

"The holistic approach of medical, physical, emotional and even tech/tactical; bringing together what we need to monitor and evaluate our University players. “If you can’t measure it – it doesn’t exist.” I know we were the first Canadian University to use the program and I know many more will be asking for it in the future! I highly recommend Metrifit."
"I've found Metrifit an invaluable resource. Not only to monitor daily wellness, readiness to train and training load within the squad, but also to monitor training load externally with additional external squads. Furthermore, Metrifit has acted as a key teaching tool, allowing young athletes associate good sleeping, eating and recovery habits to an improved sense of wellness and thus superior on-field performance."

Tommy Mooney

Strength and Conditioning Coach at DCU Sport and with Dublin Minor GAA

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T13:31:14+00:00

Tommy Mooney

Strength and Conditioning Coach at DCU Sport and with Dublin Minor GAA

"I've found Metrifit an invaluable resource. Not only to monitor daily wellness, readiness to train and training load within the squad, but also to monitor training load externally with additional external squads. Furthermore, Metrifit has acted as a key teaching tool, allowing young athletes associate good sleeping, eating and recovery habits to an improved sense of wellness and thus superior on-field performance."
"Metrifit has been instrumental in helping our international Managers, Coaches and Medical teams to identify players who require modifications in training loads or who are struggling with some aspect of their preparation for, or recovery from, training and matches.  One of the big strengths of this technology is that it allows our Managers and Medical teams to monitor players both during international competition and outside of these times."

Dan Horan

Head of Fitness for International Football/Fitness Coach Men's Senior Team
Football Association of Ireland

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:11:55+00:00

Dan Horan

Head of Fitness for International Football/Fitness Coach Men's Senior Team
Football Association of Ireland

"Metrifit has been instrumental in helping our international Managers, Coaches and Medical teams to identify players who require modifications in training loads or who are struggling with some aspect of their preparation for, or recovery from, training and matches.  One of the big strengths of this technology is that it allows our Managers and Medical teams to monitor players both during international competition and outside of these times."
"Metrifit has been used to gain a more in-depth insight into our student-athlete’s progressive athletic development and balance relative to their particular sporting and training activities, academic studies and total load. Metrifit doesn’t just help with optimising our Sports Scholarship students’ athletic performance. It assists us in helping them get the balance right between their sporting activities and academic studies."

Richard Deuchrass

Lincoln University Athletic Performance Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T13:58:58+00:00

Richard Deuchrass

Lincoln University Athletic Performance Manager

"Metrifit has been used to gain a more in-depth insight into our student-athlete’s progressive athletic development and balance relative to their particular sporting and training activities, academic studies and total load. Metrifit doesn’t just help with optimising our Sports Scholarship students’ athletic performance. It assists us in helping them get the balance right between their sporting activities and academic studies."
"Our coaches through Metrifit basically have an ‘X-ray’ vision into the habits and lifestyles and stressors their athletes have on a day to day basis, especially when they are not together. Thus the professional authentic relationships created through the casual conversations, reflection process and application provided is priceless."

Brian Clarke

Head Strength and Conditioning Co-ordinator,Noblesville High School

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:21:17+00:00

Brian Clarke

Head Strength and Conditioning Co-ordinator,Noblesville High School

"Our coaches through Metrifit basically have an ‘X-ray’ vision into the habits and lifestyles and stressors their athletes have on a day to day basis, especially when they are not together. Thus the professional authentic relationships created through the casual conversations, reflection process and application provided is priceless."
"When our players have been only training with the national team Metrifit allows me to liaise very closely with our conditioning coaches to manage load and intensity of training during training camps. I recommend it to anyone who wants an easy to use monitoring system."

Dave Passmore

Head Coach, Irish Hockey

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-15T12:51:46+00:00

Dave Passmore

Head Coach, Irish Hockey

"When our players have been only training with the national team Metrifit allows me to liaise very closely with our conditioning coaches to manage load and intensity of training during training camps. I recommend it to anyone who wants an easy to use monitoring system."
"While working with the Clare Senior Hurling team (2012-2014), Horse Sport Ireland (U25 European Eventing Champions) and currently with the Limerick Senior Hurling Team, Metrifit provides our team with critical information across a number of essential aspects of elite athletic performance. You don’t really know how your players are responding to training stimuli unless you have daily data and Metrifit provides and easy to use and highly effective means of finding this critical information."

Joe O’Connor

NISUS Fitness, S&C Coach Clare Senior Hurling, Horse Sport Ireland and Limerick Senior Hurling

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T13:55:49+00:00

Joe O’Connor

NISUS Fitness, S&C Coach Clare Senior Hurling, Horse Sport Ireland and Limerick Senior Hurling

"While working with the Clare Senior Hurling team (2012-2014), Horse Sport Ireland (U25 European Eventing Champions) and currently with the Limerick Senior Hurling Team, Metrifit provides our team with critical information across a number of essential aspects of elite athletic performance. You don’t really know how your players are responding to training stimuli unless you have daily data and Metrifit provides and easy to use and highly effective means of finding this critical information."
"Metrifit has been hugely beneficial in supporting our coaches and back room staff to track and monitor our players training loads, performance and readiness to train. Having a one-stop shop for collating all relevant information across a holistic picture of the player allows us to help prevent burnout, injury and provide timely feedback and communication to all."

Eamonn Fitzmaurice

Kerry Senior Football, Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:01:46+00:00

Eamonn Fitzmaurice

Kerry Senior Football, Manager

"Metrifit has been hugely beneficial in supporting our coaches and back room staff to track and monitor our players training loads, performance and readiness to train. Having a one-stop shop for collating all relevant information across a holistic picture of the player allows us to help prevent burnout, injury and provide timely feedback and communication to all."
"Metrifit is an outstanding platform to track your athletes’ wellness. It’s simple to use, easy to implement and gives outstanding information on your athlete’s subjective wellness which can be used to assign training loads. I highly recommend Metrifit for any coach looking to begin implementing technology into their program"

Brijesh Patel

Quinnipiac University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T17:58:50+00:00

Brijesh Patel

Quinnipiac University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

"Metrifit is an outstanding platform to track your athletes’ wellness. It’s simple to use, easy to implement and gives outstanding information on your athlete’s subjective wellness which can be used to assign training loads. I highly recommend Metrifit for any coach looking to begin implementing technology into their program"
"We have been using Metrifit for the past season at Cornish Pirates. It has been greatly beneficial for us to have our wellness and load management data on one easy to access system. We have found this invaluable over the past season whereby Coaches, Physios and Strength and conditioning coaches can monitor both the psychological and physiological load of our athletes on a daily basis."

Paul Cremin

Head Physiotherapist, Cornish Pirates Rugby Club

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:06:04+00:00

Paul Cremin

Head Physiotherapist, Cornish Pirates Rugby Club

"We have been using Metrifit for the past season at Cornish Pirates. It has been greatly beneficial for us to have our wellness and load management data on one easy to access system. We have found this invaluable over the past season whereby Coaches, Physios and Strength and conditioning coaches can monitor both the psychological and physiological load of our athletes on a daily basis."
"As a school that cannot spend large amounts of money on athlete monitoring, Metrifit has provided us with a great tool for monitoring stress and athlete readiness at a great rate. Being athlete driven, we're able to get buy-in from the athlete, and drive individual or team wide conversations regarding lifestyle and performance education in the direction needed. Seeing acute and chronic stress on a real-time basis has greatly improved the way we schedule workouts and arrange travel during the season."

Derek Bol
Strength & Conditioning Coach, Valparaiso University
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-20T22:26:45+00:00
Derek Bol
Strength & Conditioning Coach, Valparaiso University
"As a school that cannot spend large amounts of money on athlete monitoring, Metrifit has provided us with a great tool for monitoring stress and athlete readiness at a great rate. Being athlete driven, we're able to get buy-in from the athlete, and drive individual or team wide conversations regarding lifestyle and performance education in the direction needed. Seeing acute and chronic stress on a real-time basis has greatly improved the way we schedule workouts and arrange travel during the season."
"Metrifit is an amazingly easy-to-use yet comprehensive monitoring tool for training and recovery! The elite athletes we work with are able track and monitor their situations and states daily, in order to maximize their performance loads and recovery practices. This also helps our coaches customize the training programs ‎more effectively. I'd recommend this for any serious team / athlete or coach in wanting to bring out the very best in their long-term performances! "

Edgar K. Tham

Founder and Chief Sport & Performance Psychologist, SportPsych Consulting (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines)

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T18:03:35+00:00

Edgar K. Tham

Founder and Chief Sport & Performance Psychologist, SportPsych Consulting (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines)

"Metrifit is an amazingly easy-to-use yet comprehensive monitoring tool for training and recovery! The elite athletes we work with are able track and monitor their situations and states daily, in order to maximize their performance loads and recovery practices. This also helps our coaches customize the training programs ‎more effectively. I'd recommend this for any serious team / athlete or coach in wanting to bring out the very best in their long-term performances! "
"The cutting edge technology of Metrifit enables Managers, Coaches and Players to use this innovative technology to gain these crucial percentage points over their opponents in a technologically advanced yet easy to use web-based platform. The data collated on a daily basis greatly informs Management Teams while the educational aspect of the system really appeals to modern day athletes who are constantly looking for that extra edge."

Cian O’Neill

Kildare Senior Football Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T13:24:03+00:00

Cian O’Neill

Kildare Senior Football Manager

"The cutting edge technology of Metrifit enables Managers, Coaches and Players to use this innovative technology to gain these crucial percentage points over their opponents in a technologically advanced yet easy to use web-based platform. The data collated on a daily basis greatly informs Management Teams while the educational aspect of the system really appeals to modern day athletes who are constantly looking for that extra edge."
"Metrifit provides immediate insight and feedback on the physical and mental states of the student-athletes.  It allows us to adjust practices and training sessions to accurately meet needs. We have been able to identify potential injury concerns, track current injury status and monitor return to play progress."

Kari Thompson

Head Volley Ball Coach, Southern Illinois University

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:08:31+00:00

Kari Thompson

Head Volley Ball Coach, Southern Illinois University

"Metrifit provides immediate insight and feedback on the physical and mental states of the student-athletes.  It allows us to adjust practices and training sessions to accurately meet needs. We have been able to identify potential injury concerns, track current injury status and monitor return to play progress."
"The visualisation of data allows for easy discussion between athletes, performance staff and medical teams and offers the potential to predict and avoid issues which could hamper performance. Over the year the data has proven instrumental in our critical decision making. Metrifit is a excellent monitoring tool however the unsung additional aspect is the fantastic and tireless customer support."

Robert Walsh
Strength Coach
Nederlandse Ski Vereniging (Netherlands Ski/Snowboard Team)
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-07-25T14:10:08+00:00
Robert Walsh
Strength Coach
Nederlandse Ski Vereniging (Netherlands Ski/Snowboard Team)
"The visualisation of data allows for easy discussion between athletes, performance staff and medical teams and offers the potential to predict and avoid issues which could hamper performance. Over the year the data has proven instrumental in our critical decision making. Metrifit is a excellent monitoring tool however the unsung additional aspect is the fantastic and tireless customer support."
"The ability to acutely monitor stress and recovery and make the correct adjustments was critical to our health and performance throughout the NCAA tournament. Metrifit has a very strong educational component. With the information we get, I am able to clearly understand the habits and behaviors of our athletes, and how they may be impacting performance."

Erik Helland

Director of Strength & Conditioning and Head Strength Coach Men’s basketball, University of Wisconsin

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T11:42:14+00:00

Erik Helland

Director of Strength & Conditioning and Head Strength Coach Men’s basketball, University of Wisconsin

"The ability to acutely monitor stress and recovery and make the correct adjustments was critical to our health and performance throughout the NCAA tournament. Metrifit has a very strong educational component. With the information we get, I am able to clearly understand the habits and behaviors of our athletes, and how they may be impacting performance."
"Metrifit has enabled us to bring to life the complexiities associated with managing the academic, pastoral and sporting demands of pupils aged 13 - 18 in a UK day and boarding school environment It has provided another bridge between coaches and sports pupis, giving pupils a space to provide honest self reflection on wellbeing and providing coaches a head start on appropriate freshness and fatigue balance across the school week."

Graham Williams

Athletic Development Coach, MSc ASCC
Millfield School, UK

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-19T14:14:37+00:00

Graham Williams

Athletic Development Coach, MSc ASCC
Millfield School, UK

"Metrifit has enabled us to bring to life the complexiities associated with managing the academic, pastoral and sporting demands of pupils aged 13 - 18 in a UK day and boarding school environment It has provided another bridge between coaches and sports pupis, giving pupils a space to provide honest self reflection on wellbeing and providing coaches a head start on appropriate freshness and fatigue balance across the school week."