Knee use trying to sprint if you're not symmetrical!
Byline: Craig Thompson Reporter email@example.com
SYMMETRICAL knees are the secret behind the sprinting prowess of Jamaica's track stars, according to North East academics.
Jamaica has produced some of the world's fastest athletes - including record-breaker Usain Bolt - so researchers from Northumbria University joined a team of experts to investigate what lies behind the small nation's sporting success.
Their findings reveal that the symmetry of the knees and the ankles can be a factor in a person's running speed and suggest that the more symmetrical the knees, the faster a person will run. North East academics Kris McCarty, a research fellow in Northumbria's department of psychology, and Mark Russell, a senior lecturer in the sport, exercise and rehabilitation department, were part of a team of experts who travelled to the Caribbean island this year to carry out the research.
Kris said: "We specifi-cally wanted to look into the success of Jamaican elite sprinters - the best of the best - because the country has so many record holders for sprint events.
"We flew to Jamaica in March and took measurements from an elite track and field team in Kingston, as well as from a large sample of everyday Jamaicans. The findings show us there is a relationship between knee symmetry and running speed, although it is not known at this stage if the sprinters are great because their knees are symmetrical, or if their knees are symmetrical because of the time spent practising and training."
The team measured the knees of 74 elite athletes as well as doing the same with a control group of 116 non-sprinting Jamaicans of the same age and sex, and similar in size and weight.
They discovered that the sprinters' knees were much more symmetrical than the knees of people in the control group.
The participating sprinters were all members of the MVP Track and Field Club, and included Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, who holds two Olympic gold medals in the 100m sprint, and Nesta Carter, the man with the fifth fastest time over 100m.
Thirty of those sprinters who specialise in the 100m race, which does not require runners to turn, were found to have the most symmetrical knees of all.
Although scientists can already predict how fast a non-trained person will run when they are older by looking at the symmetry of the knees in childhood, this is the first time any research has isolated a variable that predicts sprinting speed in current athletes.
Northumbria University academics studied top runners from Usain Bolt's home of Jamaica TONY NICOLETTI