The new data are telling us that less flexibility correlates with greater sport economy. The reason is probably that elastic recoil of muscle and tendon is an important contributor to power. Just as a golf ball will bounce higher and longer than a squash ball, a rower will bounce better out of the footstretcher if he has stiff muscles than floppy ones.
According to the first study, about 60-70 percent of flexibility is heritable, and one gene that helps determine flexibility level is called COL5A1. The researchers were curious whether variations in this gene would correlate with endurance performance. It turned out that athletes with the “stiffer” version of COL5A1 were faster in general.
Two important takeaways here.
First, genetics matter.
Second, more evidence that flexibility is overrated. Don’t stretch to get faster. (Or to prevent injuries.)