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What is vertical Oscillation

Running is an activity which involves forward motion and one put all the energy and form to drive the body forward. Beside many other factors which create inefficiency, one factor which can't be ignored is vertical movement of the body also called as Vertical Oscillation (VO).


When running in group it is informative to watch hip movement of the runners running before you. If they are carrying hydration belt with objects like water bottle, gives you a reference of the Vertical Oscillation (VO) they are having. For some runners this oscillation is remarkable indicating that they are wasting their precious energy in a upward motion which is not contributing to the forward motion of running.


So should we have zero vertical oscillation, the answer is NO. The whole mechanics of running involve the thrust from Planter to Ankle to up in the leg creating that bounce which when combine with forward thrust creates the flight. But because of weak HIP structure this goes uncontrolled and throws the body more upward then the desired optimum level.


What is an ideal VO? VO varies from 6 to 11 cm . Yes that's right VO is measured in centimeter. Lower VO means more energy is directed towards forward motion. Pace of your running also affects ones VO, a slow pace may have low VO and as you increase your pace you may have higher VO.



How do I track VO. The first tool is visual, just watch the bounce of the torso and your coach is in better position to tell if you have higher bounce. Technically I use Garmin Running dynamics pod to measure the VO. It's compatible with some Garmin watches and it's a very helpful tool to technically analyze the bounce.


Derived from VO is another interesting efficiency factor called as Vertical Ratio (VR). VR refers to the VO per stride length. A runner may have low VO, but low stride length gives high VR, that's indicate lower efficiency. A high efficient Runner have high VO and high stride length. VR varies from 6% to 10% among runners and as you might have guessed, lower the VR more efficiency in Running.


So, if one have high VO or VR, how to move towards the efficiency. Lets park this for another topic. My objective of this article is to make you aware of this performance parameter.


Happy running


Uday Bhosle

Integrated Wellness Coach

Life | Nutrition | Physical Coach

+91 9819326452

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