Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 11, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 11, 2020


Steph Curry excited for Warriors return after struggling with patience

NBC Sports Bay Area, Logan Murdock from

For just over four months, Warriors guard Steph Curry has walked into Chase Center with no plans to finish the evening playing sanctioned basketball.

Now, hours before his return from a broken left hand, he expressed joy about getting back into the fold.

“I’m excited,” he told reporters following Thursday’s shootaround. “Coming into this year, I was excited to compete and see what the season held in terms of our transition as an organization.”

In his return, Curry, who broke his hand on Oct. 30, says he’ll be on a restriction of “about 24 to 28 minutes” with the preference of playing towards the ends quarters.


OTC Elite’s Kipyego earns U.S. Olympic berth in marathon

Oregon Track Club Elite, Curtis Anderson from

… With her inspired performance, Kipyego will represent Team USA in the marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The 26.2-mile race is scheduled to be held on Aug. 8 in Sapporo, Japan.

“A lot of women have children, and they come back, and somehow they run and they are fantastic,” Kipyego said. “That was not my story. My body fell apart, and I couldn’t put together a month of training without getting fatigued or sick.

“I have struggled, but today I was victorious. I was victorious because of where I’ve come from, and the challenges I’ve gone through … it is absolutely amazing in so many ways because I felt like quitting so many times. I had to fight myself so many times.”


Differences in running biomechanics between a maximal, traditional, and minimal running shoe.

Journal of Science & Medicine in Sport from


Previous studies comparing shoes based on the amount of midsole cushioning have generally used shoes from multiple manufacturers, where factors outside of stack height may contribute to observed biomechanical differences in running mechanics between shoes. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare ground reaction forces and ankle kinematics during running between three shoes (maximal, traditional, and minimal) from the same manufacturer that only varied in stack height.

Within-participant repeated measures METHODS: Twenty recreational runners ran overground in the laboratory in three shoe conditions (maximal, traditional, minimal) while three-dimensional kinematic and kinetic data were collected using a 3D motion capture system and two embedded force plates. Repeated measures ANOVAs (α=.05) compared biomechanical data between shoes.

While the loading rate was significantly greater in the minimal shoe compared to the maximal shoe, no other differences were seen for the ground reaction force variables. Peak eversion was greater in the maximal and minimal shoe compared to the traditional shoe, while eversion duration and eversion at toe-off were greater in the maximal shoe.

Previously cited differences in ground reaction force parameters between maximal and traditional footwear may be due to factors outside of midsole stack height. The eversion mechanics in the maximal shoes from this study may place runners at a greater risk of injury. Disagreement between previous studies indicates that more research on maximal running shoes is needed.


Polarized Training: Go Slow to Go Fast

PodiumRunner, Susan Lacke from

… The polarized training philosophy places an emphasis on the opposing “poles” of the intensity spectrum; easy workouts are truly performed at an easy effort, and hard sessions are actually hard. In the polarized approach, there is no middle ground.

“The polarized training approach works well for me,” says multiple Ironman champion Linsey Corbin. “It’s made me a more dynamic athlete, because my range has increased.” Prior to taking the polarized approach, Corbin often found herself in the middle-intensity trap. When she dropped her easy workouts to a truly easy level, however, she was surprised to see how much her hard efforts improved. This improvement inspired her to stay consistent with training—instead of getting frustrated with a plateau, she was motivated by the improvement as training stacked up over time.


Distance running stride-to-stride variability for sagittal plane joint angles. – PubMed – NCBI

Sports Biomechanics journal from

Recent research indicates that distance running stride-to-stride variability (SSV) is related to performance and injury. Previous studies have primarily focused on stride characteristics (stride length and time). We assessed SSV for sagittal plane joint angles with the primary purpose of testing for significant differences among the lower body joints. The secondary purpose was to determine if strong correlations exist among joint SSV measures. Thirty recreational adult runners participated in the study (8 females, 22 males, 39 ± 10 years; 53.1 ± 25.7 km/week). A 6-camera motion capture system (200 Hz) collected kinematic data during treadmill running at a preferred pace. A 2 by 3 repeated measures factorial ANOVA (phase-stance, swing; joint-hip, knee, ankle) was run (p = 0.05). There was a significant interaction effect (p < 0.001) and post hoc analysis revealed knee swing to be the most variable condition by far. For all three joints, there were strong correlations between stance and swing SSV (r = 0.80 to r = 0.88) and correlations among the joints were moderate to strong (r = 0.55 to 0.86). This study helps to better understand the joints/phases that contribute most to variability in the overall stride. Also, the strong correlations suggest that runners appear to have an overall SSV pattern that is similar across joints/phases.


What’s the Best Running Cadence? How to Know Your Ideal Step Rate

Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running blog from

… In this article, I want to focus on your running cadence – because this was focused on heavily in Born to Run and is a major aspect of good form.

In fact, I remember a quote from Caballo Blanco (a major character from the book) very clearly about cadence:

When deciding whether to take one or two steps between rocks, take three.

He meant that taking more steps would help runners navigate technical, rocky terrain. Longer, bounding steps are less efficient, require more energy, and aren’t as economical at covering most gnarly trails in the mountains.


The Ray Way: ‘It all starts with a thought’, Richard Justice from

“You’ve been developed a certain way,” Rays right-hander Charlie Morton said, “and you think a certain way. And I think what Justin does — and people like him in that field — they help provide different ways of thinking about the game and different ways of thinking about yourself.”

Morton didn’t know Justin Su’a when he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays 14 months ago. Coincidentally, he joined the Rays the same week Su’a was named the team’s “Major League mental skills coach.”

Around that time, the Rays promoted another member of the front office, Jonathan Erlichman, who has a math degree from Princeton, to their Major League staff with the title “process and analytics coach.”


How a sport psychologist uses mindfulness to prepare athletes to win Olympic gold

NBC News, Better blog, Esta Pratt-Kielley from

Before one early morning swim practice leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, sport psychologist Sara Mitchell coached several Paralympic athletes in a warm-up exercise. But it wasn’t the kind of exercise you might think.

“We’ll start with breath awareness,” Mitchell said. “Noticing all the sensations of your breath, perhaps attending to the feel of the air moving in and out of your lungs … and when you feel the mind has settled in the body with the task at hand of simply observing the breath, I’d like to invite you to broaden the scope of your attention to include either a visual target or a sensation in the body that you expect to feel when you’re swimming.”


The science of the adolescent brain

The Week, Claire Gillespie from

Adolescence is a time of massive change. As children become teenagers, they’re subject to growth spurts, voice changes, new body hair, and annoying acne. But perhaps the biggest shifts of adolescence are the invisible ones happening inside the brain.

“The brain of an adolescent is no different in size or shape than that of an adult,” says board-certified neurosurgeon Marc Arginteanu, M.D., F.A.C.S. “On a standard CAT scan or MRI, your brain and that of your teenager would be indistinguishable. But, in terms of development, your brain is worlds apart from theirs.”

The teenage brain isn’t fully developed, and different parts of the brain mature at different rates. For instance, the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which sits right behind the eyes and is responsible for executive function and rational reasoning, doesn’t typically fully mature until age 24, while the amygdala, which is deep in the brain and processes and integrates emotions, emotional behaviors, and motivation, seems to reach full maturity much earlier.


Physiotherapy at home could get VR boost

The Engineer from

Virtual reality and motion capture have the potential to improve physiotherapy at home, according to a new study from WMG, University of Warwick.

The combination of technologies can provide guidance and feedback to patients outside a clinical setting, helping them not only to perform exercises correctly but also retain their interest in completing the treatment. Currently, patients prescribed physiotherapy at home usually rely on leaflets with sketches or photographs of the required exercises. But this can lead to poor compliance, with patients getting bored or being uncertain if they are performing the movements correctly.


Skin-Like Sensors Bring Human Touch to Wearables

Design News, Elizabeth Montalbano from

Researchers have been working to improve wearable technology so that it’s more comfortable for those using it while still offering optimal performance to monitor health- and wellness-related signals from the body.
skin sensors, wearables, University of Toronto, flexible, transparent, and self-powering sensor system, AI, AISkin

Scientists at the University of Toronto have gone one step further with this endeavor and developed a flexible, transparent, and self-powering sensor system that can be worn like a second skin to provide health monitoring.

The team—led by Professor Xinyu Liu, an associate professor in the University’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering—developed the skin out of hydrogel materials, dubbing it “AISkin.”


The Whoop fitness tracker knows when to recommend sleep instead of exe

Fast Company, Jeff Beer from

The Whoop fitness band, which measures a user’s heart rate variability and offers insights into everything from workout intensity and recovery to sleep performance, was initially designed for elite athletes. It’s now going mainstream. Last May, the company launched the Whoop Strap 3.0, which boosted battery life from two days to five, and upgraded its app to allow users to access a new Strain Coach feature that helps them maximize performance without overdoing it.

“Whoop is the first fitness product to tell you to rest and not exercise,” says Whoop founder and CEO Will Ahmed. The new app also lets users overlay data on top of video and photos to analyze (and share) performance, and assesses different stages of slumber. (“Sleep is the new steps,” Ahmed says.)


All numbers are made up, some are useful

Normcore Tech, Vicki Boykis from

What I mean is that all the data that we trust and believe on a daily basis, is only accurate in a specific context, at a specific time, and at a specific level. If you dig deep enough, ultimately all of the data in the world that drives major and minor decisions alike is built on wobbly foundations.

Take, for example, the coronavirus mortality rate. We have no idea what the true number is. I mean we have some ideas of true numbers. But we’re not taking into account: undercounting minor cases that never get tested and never go to the hospital. Undercounting deaths that haven’t happened yet. Undercounting due to political reasons. Undercounting, simply because maybe hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of cases. Overcounting or undercounting recoveries. And much, much, more. As Elea says, human behavior is inconsistent and difficult to measure, and the virus is exactly an example of trying to measure human behavior on a large scale.


Why — even after reforms for an episode involving bad statistics — is it so difficult to correct the sports medicine literature? Part 1

Retraction Watch, Matthew Tenan from

Two years ago, following heated debate, a sports science journal banned a statistical method from its pages, and a different journal — which had published a defense of that method earlier — decided to boost its statistical chops. But as Matthew Tenan, a data scientist with a PhD in neuroscience relates in this three-part series, that doesn’t seem to have made it any easier to correct the scientific record. Here’s part one.


‘A flawed decision:’ What happened when sports scientists tried to correct the scientific record, part 2

Retraction Watch, Matthew Tenan from

Why is it so difficult to correct the scientific record in sports science? In the first installment in this series of guest posts, Matthew Tenan, a data scientist with a PhD in neuroscience, began the story of how he and some colleagues came to scrutinize a paper. In this post, he explains what happened next.


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