FROM THE COACH’S DAUGHTER
Kaylee Gittleson ran hurdles for Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. The team won three out of four Division I State Championships during her four years. She is now a Senior at the University of Michigan. Kaylee was told by her dad to write about training from her perspective on the Rogers Blog.
The Pendulum Seated Squat
Kaylee explains ….My Dad was a Strength and Conditioning Coach for 30 years. I literally grew up in a home that was a gym with furniture. I was taught in high school that running requires developing strong legs. Growing up in a home with five neck machines you understand that neck training is important as well.
When you run, the neck muscles contract before your foot hits the ground, which is an important factor in performance. This contracture is in anticipation of the ground reaction force, which pitches the head forward at foot strike. This bracing action occurring during the aerial phase of sprinting is called checkraining. Our head, which is pitched forward upon contact, is countered by neck extension and also requires dampening the vertical acceleration of it with the downward swing of our stance side arm.
I learned in physics Newton’s third law which stated, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction: so when you run as your trunk accelerates forward and then backward your head and neck accelerate backward then forward. Sit in your car accelerate quickly forward then step on the brake, the more the trunk pitches the more the head reacts. Not only we do we use our arms to help control this pitching motion of the skull, we use our head and neck muscles, which are just as important.
Hurdling requires running as well as jumping and great strength to maintain your form as you sprint over 10 hurdles and land violently on the ground. For an athlete to excel, they must train the structures that decelerate opposing masses. This means an athlete must have head and neck training as part of their exercise regime. The head and neck muscles are countering arm swing as the arms are countering head pitch and rotation. A strong neck can mean a still head and aid in excellent form and a faster time.
As an athlete, I never had a coach, other than my father, require me to train my neck musculature. I asked my father why programs neglect training this important region. Dad said, “For the same reason you never did what you were supposed to do when growing up.” Yep, Newton’s Law applies to father and daughter interaction as well.
Neck flexion on the Pendulum 5-Way Neck