Limited research has focused on the possible effects of standing posture on running performance. The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between postural assessment scores and running performance results, and to further compare the postural assessment scores between participant groups (high-performance running academy and private high school athletes).
The sample consisted of athletes (n = 30) from an elite running academy and (n = 60) from a private high school in Pretoria (age = 15.51 ± 1.63 years). A modified technique of Watson and Mac Donncha which assesses eleven common areas of postural problematic areas was used.1 Sprint speed ability was assessed using the 10, 20 and 40 metre sprint tests. The 20-metre shuttle run test (Bleep test) was conducted which assessed the aerobic endurance abilities of the participants.
Overall posture rating (mean ± SD) of the elite athlete group (48.20 ± 4.09) was higher than the private high school group (44.83 ± 4.42) (p = 0.00). The Bleep test results (mean ± SD) were also superior for the elite athlete group (10.59 ± 1.88) in comparison to the private high school group (8.26 ± 1.94) (p = 0.00). Furthermore, 10m, 20m and 40m sprint speed results (mean ± SD) were superior for the elite athlete group (1.81s ± 0.12, 3.02s ± 0.23, 5.39s ± 0.31, respectively) in comparison to the private high school group (2.07s ± 0.27, 3.50s ± 0.34, 6.35s ± 0.62, respectively) (p = 0.00). With both groups combined, moderate negative correlations were found between overall posture rating and the 20m and 40m sprint test results (r = -0.47, p = 0.00; r = -0.54, p = 0.00 respectively). Furthermore, moderate positive correlations were found between overall posture rating and the Bleep test results (r = 0.43, p = 0.00).
From the results of this study, higher overall posture ratings (better posture) were correlated with better speed and aerobic endurance. Therefore, good posture may not only have important health implications but also may be beneficial for sports performance in speed and endurance related sports and activities.