If you've heard of the benefits of sprint training, you might be eager to hit the ground running in order to lose a few extra pounds and tone your legs. But sprinting properly requires more technique than you may have thought. How you land when sprinting can affect everything from your speed to your risk of injury. Running coaches recommend landing on the balls of your feet when sprinting for maximum efficiency.
Thrust your front leg forward when you're sprinting at maximum speed and bend your ankle before making contact with the ground so your toes are pointing at a downward angle.
Make contact with the ground on the ball of your foot. Landing in this position, your calf muscle is primed to release its elastic energy and a hard push is unnecessary.
Concentrate on landing directly under your center of gravity. This will allow you to lift your legs faster and easier, increasing your speed.
Keep your rear leg folded up tightly toward your buttocks as your lead foot makes contact with the ground. Alternating the position of your feet like this makes for more efficient strides.
- You should be upright when you sprint, but a very slight forward lean of about 5 to 10 degrees will help you land on the balls of your feet. If you put your lead foot down too quickly, you're more likely to land on your heel first, which creates a braking force that slows you down. Try to maintain a balanced posture, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your head in line with your spine.
- Landing improperly, such as with your heels first, can increase pressure on your ankles, knees and hips, making your sprints more stressful than they should be. Sprinting is an intense exercise designed to raise your heart rate to near-maximum levels. Speak with your physician before adopting sprinting into your exercise routine to see if your body can handle it. Avoid sprinting on consecutive days to minimize your risk of overtraining and stress fractures.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.