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I´m new at the forum and in track and field! But something in your article got my atention. U wrote that its not good to do “paw back” action in the ground contact because of hamstring injuries. What about pushing action in the front side leg to minimize flight phase? What i understood is that once u develop mobility/flexibility, strength and relaxation, right sprint mechanics will come naturally. Is that right?? Do u work with sprint mechanics drills? How do u teach technique?
Thanks a lot!
I wouldn’t recommend attempting to minimize flight phase but I do think you want active hip extension from the point of greatest hip flexion. Instead of it being like a paw back with with exagerated casting of the leg and contact a little in front of the hips I’d rather the athlete think of hammering the lower leg down.
Sprint mechanics should come pretty naturally to some but I don’t think this is the case with all athletes (Ralph Mann’s research confirms this in elite athletes) and certainly doesn’t account for when people have been previously coached to do something which violates general mechanics principles or has a personal misunderstanding of what should happen (you see this all the time with kids who think that you get greater stride length by putting the foot further in front of the hips).
First, thanks for the answer. U said that u recommend to extend the hip joint from the point of greatest hip flexion, but what about knee extension? What´s the rule of the knee joint in the stride? And i also tried to extend the hip joint the fastest way i could when the hip joint was in the greatest flexion but i felt that it overloads the knee joint and it demands a lot of elastic and reactive force in order not to damage the knee joint. Is that right?
Knee extension should occur naturally if the hip is extended rapidly. I don’t believe there should be an active attempt to reach out and extend the knee during the late swing phase. I think that could be bad for a couple reasons (1- cocontraction of quad to extend knee and hamstrings to extend the hip would be both counterproductive and potentially injurious when the shock and rapid lengthening of both muscles occurred at touchdown; 2- placement of foot further ahead of the COM at contact than would be observed otherwise). The quad will contract to stabilize the knee and hip joints during the descent of the swing leg and overloading the knee or hyperextending should never be an issue.
If you closely analyze world-class sprinters frame by frame you will see that they all extend the knee ( swing the shin out)to straighten the leg before they drive it down and back for touchdown. This act is not true co-contraction since the quads are already under contraction from the hip flexion in the concentric regime while the hamstrings undergo an eccentric contraction.
The hamstrings need the eccentric contraction to prepare for driving the leg down and back forcefully in the concentric regime. Both muscles then function in the eccentric contraction during the support phase.
Hi Mike, Dr Yessis
My coach and i were talking yesterday about seeing a lot more females than males with anterior pelvic tilt; is this just due to a poor level of strength compared to males in the region, plus poor cueing? At the elite level, Lauryn Williams (USA) comes to mind.
Also, what have you found to be the most beneficial ways to develop leg stiffness? Will this differ from adolescents to adults?
I haven’t noticed that much difference between men and women in regard to pelvic tilt but I would not be surprised if there is a significant difference. Most important here is to determine if the anterior tilt occurs during the pushoff. If yes then I say this is good because it indicates good technique. In essence the runner pushes the pelvis forward forcefully which indicates that the the forces are directed horizontally. When the hips get in front of the shoulders we see the anterior pelvic tilt. This typically occurs to runners who maintain good erect posture. If they have a forward lean it is difficult to produce this effect. It does not appear to be a strength issue; it is more of a technique issue. If there is a strength weakness it is low back strength.
in regard to leg stiffness I work on having the runners develop greater eccentric and isometric strength — mainly of the quads. it is the same for youngsters and adults.