Monday, July 4, 2011

When you sprint, does it look like Forrest Gump with his leg braces on?

It's time to tackle some speed issues. I have trained a few marathon runners in the past, and I've always managed to get their times dramatically improved with some foam rolling, activation drills and some strengthening of some dormant muscles... but it's time to talk about sprinters.

Remember, just because someone looks like they are running perfectly, doesn't mean they are. Most people that run aren't running to the best of their ability. They aren't activating their glutes on the push-off (read my last post to see why.. it all comes back to excessive sitting) they have tight hamstrings restricting their hip extension, or they have a weak core and weak and underactive hip flexors above 90 degrees that are limiting their hip drive. If all you needed were strong legs to sprint, all of the powerlifters would run like the Flash.

Now, without any sort of assessment of the client on my part, I am going to give some general guidelines to get you faster than ever. It all starts with foam rolling. If you don't know what this is, or have never been a victim of the foam - I HIGHLY suggest that you go out and buy one. I could go on for days about the benefits, but I will just lead you to the best article I have found on the subject.


Now, we need to wake up some muscles. First I want you to go back and read that last post I had about under active glutes. Do those drills. Then stretch out your hamstrings. Have a seat on the floor, bring one leg into your crotch, straighten the other leg out, and reach down for your toes. Hold on each side for 30 seconds. After that, do these drills to warm up the hips.

These are my 2 favorite mobilization techniques from half kneel. From there, we can work on your hip flexors. Now, the hip flexor that has been said to work above 90 degrees is called your psoas and is generally very weak and inactive in most people. So, first, we need to stretch it.

This is the best link I could find.. I really need to start filming these things myself...

Just hold that stretch for 30 seconds on each side, don't rock back and forth.

Now, with that muscle relaxed a bit, we need to activate it.

With this exercise, the idea is to find a box or so that allows you to bring your knee to 90 degrees, From there, you have to keep your back tall so that you don't compensate this movement with lumbar flexion (you don't need to really be against a wall, but it helps to keep you upright.) Then, just using your hip, raise your leg up there and hold it for up to 30 seconds on each side. If you start to feel cramping, just don't hold it as long and build up.

Now, from there, you should be ready to run. Make sure you have a nice plant from both feet, and really enforce that back leg on that push off. Pump the arms, slight forward lean, and get to running. Now, if you were here, I would DEFINITELY incorporate some resistance training to strengthen your legs and core, but this is a basic post on how to get the right muscles firing. Do this as your warm up every time you sprint and you will begin to feel stronger and faster.. because your body is running right.

Enjoy, sprinters. :)

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