Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Jan

19 Tips for Avoiding Injuries During Sprint Sessions

safetyfirstSprinting is a powerful asset to any training program. It’s brief and effective and long-lasting and reverberates throughout multiple aspects of health and performance. If you sprint regularly, you’ll likely improve your body composition, strength and fitness levels, metabolic flexibility, stamina, and explosiveness. Since sprinting is “going as fast as you can,” it’s infinitely and instantly scalable to your ability level. Anyone who can sprint but does not is making a huge mistake.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. You have to do it right. Sprinting actually isn’t very dangerous compared to other athletic pursuits. You’re more liable to get injured playing a team sport, where you’re responding quickly to unpredictable changes in the game, moving laterally and vertically, diving and leaping for balls or discs, jostling for position. Sprinting is linear, straightforward. You go from point A to point B. However, the very thing that makes sprinting work so well – the fact that it represents the highest intensity your body can muster – can lead to injury if you’re not prepared.

So make sure to be prepared. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Raise your body temperature.

Literally warm yourself up a bit. This could be a short, brisk walk, a few minutes on a bike, rolling around on the floor like a kid, or even a really light jog. Just get warm. This is why sprinting in really cold weather requires extra prep – your body is really, really cold, which can increase injury risk. Heck, it might even mean taking a hot bath before training.

2. Don’t static stretch before.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to construct a controlled trial testing the effects of different stretching modalities on sprinting injuries. You’d have to come up with an “injury-inducing”, and that’s just not ethical. What we do have is plenty of research into the effect of various types of stretching on sprint performance. Generally speaking, improved performance is a barometer for good technique, which is a fair representation of safety and protection from injury. Most studies suggest that static stretching before sprinting impedes performance.

3. Instead, do dynamic stretches.

Dynamic stretches are active stretches that involve movement through the full range of motion. Some sprint-specific ones include:

A couple rounds of those should suffice. Do about 10-20 meters for each move per round.

4. Do dynamic stretches before, but not too many.

Dynamic stretching before sprinting improves performance, but there is a limit. One study found that while one to two sets of 20 meter long dynamic stretch drills improved subsequent sprint performance, three sets impaired performance by inducing fatigue. Do enough dynamic stretching that you feel energized and ready to go. Stop short of doing so many that you start getting tired.

5. Do a few depth jumps.

This is a depth jump. In one recent study, subjects who performed three depth jumps a minute before sprinting improved their performance. Three depth jumps are enough to “shock” the nervous system and get it prepared to move your body, but not enough to impair your performance or fatigue your legs. A few deep squat jumps should work, too.

6. Do a few trial ramp up runs.

Run several half sprints before your real session starts, starting at about 50% intensity and steadily increasing it until you hit 80% in the last one. These are all rough approximations, of course. Just work up to near-full intensity. Beginners may want to hold off from hitting full intensity for a few sprint sessions as they get used to it.

7. Use proper technique.

Good technique is paramount. It won’t just make you faster; it will protect you.

  1. Maintain a balanced center of gravity at all times, never overstride. When landing don’t let your feet land way out in front.
  2. Stand as tall as possible – never collapse weight into ground.
  3. Torso and hips should face forward at all times.
  4. Arms swing fore and back – never side to side – locked at 90 degree angle.
  5. Bicycle style stride: flex foot immediately after takeoff and snap foot back onto the ground quickly.
  6. Generate explosive force with each footfall: midfoot landing, Achilles snap to touch ground, explosive midfoot takeoff. Foot on ground as short a time as possible.

The difference between Usain Bolt and you the reader is more explosive force per stride and less time on ground per stride. Stride frequency is nearly identical believe it or not. Your turnover is almost identical to Usain Bolt but you only generate half as much force per stride. Hence, Usain’s strides are 9 feet long due to the explosive force.

8. Only run barefoot if your feet are conditioned.

Barefoot sprinting is one of life’s greatest joys. I do all my sprinting barefoot (on the beach), in fact. But if you’re not accustomed to going barefoot, sprinting can introduce an excessive amount of loading to your tissues. Remember: it takes awhile to undo a lifetime of shoe-wearing.

9. Never run barefoot on rubberized tracks.

Those tracks are made for traction, but you don’t really want that much traction applied to your bare feet. You’ll rip the skin clean off (I’ve seen it happen). They’re great when you’re wearing shoes, though.

10. Stop while you’re ahead.

Think you’ve got “one more in ya”? Stop. End your workout. That’s exactly when you need to quit. Sprinting should not be done to failure, because failure means fatigue and fatigue is when systems fail, technique breaks down, and injuries occur. Stopping just short of that point is ideal for injury prevention. I always stop my workout right when I figure I have another one or two in me. It’s just not worth it.

11. Optimize your rest intervals.

When I sprint, I usually try to recover as completely as I can between sprints. If I’m running 30 second sprints (rare for me these days), I’ll usually rest for at least four minutes. If I’m running 10-15 second sprints, I’ll rest about two minutes. If I’m doing real short 3-5 second bursts, I’ll only rest about 20 seconds or so. I go by how I feel, though – not the numbers or some formula. When I’m rested and ready, I sprint. Folks looking to maximize their cardiovascular fitness will probably want to reduce the length of their rest periods, but full recovery is safest.

12. Sprint when fully recovered from the last workout.

Don’t sprint after heavy deadlifts (your hamstrings will be fried). Don’t sprint two days in a row (you won’t have recovered). Don’t sprint after a sleepless night (your balance and proprioception will be impaired).

13. Choose the right surface.

Generally speaking, natural surfaces are better for sprinting than manmade ones. In a comparison of plantar loading forces, running on natural grass resulted in lighter loading on the rear and forefoot, while running on asphalt placed considerably more stress on the rear and forefoot. Many top sprinters, including Usain Bolt, even promote training on grass tracks to reduce the impact to joints and bones. I love sprinting in sand. It’s harder (since your feet are sinking into the sand) and easier (since the sand is dampening your foot’s impact) at the same time. Lower impact, more difficulty.

The only time I sprint on pavement is uphill (which significantly reduces impact forces). I usually advise against it. Most of us aren’t sixth graders with invincible bones and joints playing freeze tag on the blacktop playground anymore.

14. Don’t sprint on a treadmill.

Some people pull this off, but it can be pretty dangerous – far more dangerous than sprinting out on solid ground. For one, it changes the kinematics of the hamstring and increases the risk of hamstring pulls. Two, it’s hard to go all out on a treadmill without overshooting, falling off, or holding back. I’ve never been able to really go for it on a treadmill. Something lingers in the back of my mind and holds me back. If you’re sprinting in the gym, use an exercise bike or a rower instead of the treadmill.

15. If you’ve got a prior history of hamstring pulls, knee pain, or other lower body injuries, favor hill sprints over flat sprints.

The number one risk factor for a pulled hamstring while running is having had one previously. The best way to pull a hamstring while sprinting is to overextend your leg so that your foot is out in front of your center of gravity when you land. Pretty easy to do during flat sprints over level ground, but very difficult when running hills, which prevents the full extension of the hamstring. Hill sprints generally result in lower ground forces.

16. Don’t neglect eccentric strength training movements.

Sprint-related hamstring strains can often be caused by inadequate training of the eccentric portion of movements. That means you shouldn’t just focus on lifting weights, but also lowering them. For the hamstring, a great strength builder that incorporates both concentric (lifting) and plenty of eccentric (lowering) is the Romanian deadlift.

17. Cool down.

There are many ways to cool down after sprinting. The easiest, and my favorite, is to simply walk followed by a minute or so of Grok squatting. Walk for about 5-10 minutes, then sit in a squat, maybe grabbing your feet and pushing your thighs out with your elbows to get a little stretch going. Biking, rowing, jogging, it all works. Whatever you do, do something.

18. Use a lacrosse ball, foam roller, or other self myofascial release tool at night.

At night after your sprint workout, get the SMR tool of your choice and do some hunting for tender spots. Focus on the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves – about a couple minutes per body part. The research is inconsistent, but I’ve always found this stuff really does seem to help break up adhesions and promote improved mobility.

Better yet, get a regular sports massage if you can swing it.

19. Choose the right vehicle for sprinting.

Not everyone is ready for traditional sprinting. Some will never be ready, and that’s okay. Choose your method wisely. Defer to the safer option with less impact if you’re not sure. Consider:

  • Exercise bikes
  • Road bikes
  • Swimming pools
  • Rowers
  • Ellipticals

All are viable. All will give you the “sprint effect.”

I don’t mean to overwhelm you guys. Sprinting does work best when performed safely, however, and the rewards are worth the investment. If you don’t want to worry about traditional sprinting, remember that you can always get most of the same health benefits from doing sprints on a bike, rower, and other more forgiving, more user-friendly machinery.

Let’s hear from you. Got any additional tips for safer sprinting? Let me know in the comments!

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Don’t do it on a wet surface ;)

    Primal_Alex wrote on January 29th, 2014
  2. Is there any recommendation for how often to sprint? It seems most fitness blogs recommend once per week, but I have never seen a reason. Is there any harm in sprinting 3 times a week? The only adverse effect I have experienced is crazy hunger. I am amazed how much sprinting on a stationary bike has helped my overall performance when running a 5k or downhill skiing at high altitudes.

    Jamie wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • I’ve read and experienced that if you can sprint more than 3 times a week, you’re not working hard enough. When I put my all into my sprints, I CAN only do it 2-3 times a week.

      Nicole wrote on January 29th, 2014
      • Totally agree. I have to really push myself to do that third sprint. I’m not sore, just dread the work I have in front of me.

        Jamie wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Jamie – take into consideration your goals. For instance, if you’re trying to do a personal record for squats or dead lifts you’ll probably want to avoid sprinting before or after those days where you plan on doing heavy weight lifting. Instead – opt for rowing sprints to give your legs a break.

      Matt YLBody wrote on January 29th, 2014
      • As a former competitive rower, if you are using rowing to give your legs a break, you are not rowing correctly…

        Jason wrote on January 31st, 2014
    • It really depends on who you are individually.

      Some people recover faster than others. Some people have better movement patterns than others and are therefore less likely to be injured. And some people are just in better physical shape than others.

      I’d recommend doing some self experimentation and tracking how you feel with different volumes of exercise. It’s easy to give rough guidelines, but ultimately you have to be the judge.

      Josh Frey wrote on January 29th, 2014
  3. What about using an exercise trampoline for sprints? I had bad shin splints years ago and to this day even walking really fast on hard ground makes them flare up but I can jog on a trampoline.

    crazycowgirlcorral wrote on January 29th, 2014
  4. eeww #9 just left a nasty visual impression …that’s definitely a tip worth knowing, thanks Mark!

    Chika wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Chika: I would like to add my own experience with sprinting on rubberized “all-weather” tracks. When I first tried sprinting 200 meter sprints on an all weather track, I had that experience of ripping flesh from my soles. But after toughening my soles after several weeks of barefooting on these tracks, I had no further problems.
      A couple of caveats: It makes a big difference what the temperature is. I run in Fairbanks, Alaska, and if it is below plus 50f, the tracks have a much more abrasive feel, so I will wear my NB Minimus. Above 60f, I never have a problem blistering because the rubber texture is much more giving. ALSO, when these tracks are newly built or resurfaced, they have a texture that is more abrasive. After this texture has been worn down by runners, they are much smoother and easier on your pads; especially the inner-most lane, since it has the most traffic.

      Warren wrote on January 30th, 2014
  5. No. 10 is an excellent advice. Know when to quit and cool down. Avoid bulking up the heart muscle. It leads to diminished cardiac output, cell damage, cardiac scarring and conduction abnormalities. The latter can result in different degrees of heart block and we know how that can end. This is why sprinting is so superior to long distance running.

    paleocrushmom wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • “bulking up the heart muscle. It leads to diminished cardiac output, cell damage, cardiac scarring and conduction abnormalities”

      Care to elaborate? Curious about this but am having trouble finding information… do you have any links I could start with?

      Jacob wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • I think you may have misinterpreted data. One of the main reasons we want to perform sprints is to bulk up the heart muscle which increases cardiac output. The exact opposite of what LSD running does.

      Don wrote on January 29th, 2014
      • No, I have not misinterpreted the data. The discussion turned to endurance athletes and complications like cardiac hypertrophy, cardiac dysrhythmias and heart blocks as opposed to sprinters. cardiac output = stroke volume x heart rate. if you develop ventricular hypertrophy, your stroke volume will drop all things being equal. your heart will compensate by dilating (enlarging) the lumen of the chambers. not exactly a good thing.

        paleocrushmom wrote on January 30th, 2014
  6. So I have a question about #6: The warmup is from 50% to 80% of effort. So are all sprints at 100%?

    Aaron wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Typically, yes. Though 100% at the beginning of a Tabata looks a lot different than at the end!

      Nicole wrote on January 29th, 2014
  7. I agree-speaking from personal experience-don’t sprint barefoot on a treadmill. It was more of a setback than a workout.

    Colleen wrote on January 29th, 2014
  8. Love #18 and my foam roller. And a massage! Too bad my health care plan doesn’t cover a weekly massage – maybe if they knew it was recommended by Mark :)

    Janet wrote on January 29th, 2014
  9. The best warmup is simply ramping up to a full sprint.

    Do about 1 minute of dynamic movements.

    For example, when I sprint it’s 20 reps.
    1.) Reps 1-3 are a barefoot walk
    2.) Reps 3-10 are barefoot jogs, gradually getting faster. So the 10th rep is a decent stride near 70% of your top speed.
    3.) Put shoes on now if your feet are not ready. Reps 11-20 are sprints.

    The best part about the first 10 reps is that they are diagnostic. If something feels “off” when you hit your 6th jog rep and you are only going at 50% of your threshold, you should probably limit your intensity on the remaining reps.

    Will wrote on January 29th, 2014
  10. 20. Run hills.

    Martin wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • 21. Run on dirt.

      Nocona wrote on January 29th, 2014
  11. I started sprinting at 67 or so and did very well. I did notice that once a week of14 laps on a 114 meter indoor track was enough – sprint one, walk as slow as needed to recover breath. My feet seemed to be the weak point. A likely Rx problem put a stop to it. I hope to start again.

    RobLL wrote on January 29th, 2014
  12. Yikes. I pretty much can do running sprints only on a treadmill. I don’t usually maintain speed when I’m outside. Too much distraction and unpredictable surfaces.

    Julia wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Same here! I do enjoy sprints barefoot on the beach when the weather is nice but this winter have been sprinting on the treadmill (in shoes!) with no problem. When I go all out, I feel more secure holding on to the sides of the treadmill. Maybe that’s not good form, I don’t know, but works for me, and I’m 60-something so maybe I need to hold on, ha! Also have a mini tramp and sometimes run in place or jump fast on that. But eager for nice weather to get back to the beach!

      Laurie wrote on January 29th, 2014
  13. Perfect timing.. pulled a glute sprinting on Monday…

    Lars wrote on January 29th, 2014
  14. I usually sprint like #6. No need to be 100 percent out of the gate each time. Start slow and ending at full speed for the first few sprints will warm me up and keep me from straining anything.

    If you’re just starting off, be easy on the number of sprints. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but you’ll be sore!

    Luke wrote on January 29th, 2014
  15. Great read, I am loving all the sprint lovin’. I personally always run either hill or sand sprints to limit the risk as well.

    Gary Deagle wrote on January 29th, 2014
  16. great post, especially since I’ve just started my primal journey. it’s been staying way below zero here in Minnesota where I live, so my usual hiking in snow, snowshoeing around the lakes, etc. are not viable. would jump rope work as a sprint?
    used to love it as a kid, but am not sure how to make it sprint-like when I would have to be considered a beginner with it right now.

    kay wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Or what about stairs? Can us living in snowy climes use stairs as a sprint workout? .

      JJ wrote on February 2nd, 2014
  17. I miss my outdoor hill running in this extra cold weather– but on a tread mill I raise it to 4.5 and do 30-40 seconds at a 7.5-8.0 pace (

    And I’m an old fart!

    Pastor Dave Deppisch wrote on January 29th, 2014
  18. Thanks Mark, tons of info here! I have a rower but never thought to do sprints on it! And glad you approve of the foam roller…I love mine!

    Jade wrote on January 29th, 2014
  19. Would jump squats or burpees to exhaustion work as sprints?

    waterfall wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Waterfull – just pick a Body weight movement (like the jump squats or no push up burpee or full push up burpee if strong enough) and go hard for 10-20s.

      If you want to replicate sprints you need high intensity, short duration – especially with BW movements otherwise it becomes a ‘slog’ which is NOT a sprint and you won’t get the benefits of ‘sprinting’.

      Besides which Sprinting = Cool…. Slogging= :-( not so much

      Peter wrote on January 29th, 2014
      • Thanks so much! I love squat jumps—I think I’ll start calling them squat joys. Squat JOY! Squat JOY! Squat JOY!

        waterfall wrote on January 31st, 2014
    • I guess Mark mentions burpees in connection with Tabata sprints. I’ve been doing Tabata sprints with burpees for several months now and boy they give you a hard time!

      Mihnea wrote on January 30th, 2014
  20. I enjoy grass hill runs with my dog, they kick my butt. I am easing into running in Vibram shoes, although it’s a challenge and my feet are sore days later.
    Anyone have suggestions or comments on the Vibram shoes for running?

    Tania wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Patience. Lots and lots of patience. Take it slow and don’t overdo it! Also, walk in them, a lot. Like, all the time. Focus on your cadence and where you land on your feet (should be the front, not your heel). Do it until it becomes a habit.

      Stace wrote on January 29th, 2014
  21. Question about #3:

    In the video, is it just me, or are the butt kicks and high knees exactly the same movement?

    Laurent wrote on January 29th, 2014
  22. The best machine I’ve found that is very safe is a VERSA CLIMBER! I have bad knee’s, bad hips, bad shoulders, and a bad back. All from years of over training (hockey). It’s the only way I can do sprint work period!
    Happy training,
    Cheers!

    Walks wrote on January 29th, 2014
  23. Is sprinting once weekly a good idea during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy?

    ab82 wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Probably best check with the doctor on this one – but it may be the same advice for trampolining when preganant – ie, dont do it – anything that involves rapid jolts or accelerations is generally not considered a good thing when pregnant as there is a chance of ripping the placenta from its wall – not good – so yes, flying high G’s in a jet fighter is also out until after bubs is born…

      Storm wrote on January 29th, 2014
  24. #14
    I agree completely. Dangerrrrrous.
    Added to that, for me running on a treadmill for more than just a few minutes (a warmup) isn’t the greatest. Seems to put stress on kneecap tendon. You can imagine why.

    John wrote on January 29th, 2014
  25. Thanks for the post, Mark. In a reply to a comment I posted yesterday, I suggested exactly this kind of post. Timely and helpful.

    Here are some suggestions based on my experience:

    1. Do not skimp on the warm ups. I always walk for 15 minutes at a good pace then do at least 3 runs of about 30 seconds with 30 seconds recovery. I do each run at a slightly faster pace and try to keep the whole process as gentle as possible while getting joints lubed up, heart rate elevated, and muscles warm. Patience and progressiveness is the key to getting your body ready for intense sprinting.

    2. If you are just beginning to do sprint intervals, don’t rush the process. I would suggest beginning with short sprints (around 30 strides) and starting from an easy running pace (about 3 strides per second). Focus on gradually increasing turnover in successive workouts up to a true sprinting rate of 4 to 4.5 strides per second. Learning to increase turnover while maintaining good form and balance (per Mark’s guidelines) is crucial to successful and effective sprinting (if you are not already an experienced sprinter).

    3. For me, focusing on increasing turnover actually helps me to avoid any tendency to overstride. Over a period of several months one’s stride tends to adjust itself as sprinting muscles strengthen, fast-twitch muscle fibers increase density, and high turnover rate with good form becomes more natural. There are YouTube videos of Walter Dix allegedly running 3.7 second 40s. In contrast to Usain Bolt’s 8 foot stride, Walter’s choppy stride looks about 4 feet long, but the dude’s feet are a blur and he is truly hauling.

    4. When one does flat out sprints, fast twitch muscle fibers are significantly disrupted. In order to experience the full benefits of sprinting these muscles fibers need to repair themselves, get bigger, proliferate – the whole nine anabolic yards. This takes time. If one rushes the next sprint session, this recovery process – which IS THE THING THAT MAKES ONE BETTER – is wrecked. Your body’s need to recover should be considered sacred. Don’t shortchange the recovery period.

    5. Stretch a lot and go gently and progressively for extreme extension. I generally stretch the morning after and do 8 separate lower body stretches. Stretching right takes time and patience, but I think it’s worth it. I’m 75, and I’ve recently been viewing age 75+ Masters 100 meter sprint events on YouTube. Honestly, except for Bob Lida and Bobby Whilden, almost every one of these older sprinters run with restricted strides like their muscles are so tight they can’t achieve a full range of motion. It might actually make sense to spend more time stretching than one does running. In addition to maintaining elasticity and avoid injury, stretching helps you discover stress points and asymmetries in your body that can help you adjust your form.

    Dan Williams wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Your advice (all of it) is very good and exactly what I have found to be most useful over the years.

      David Marino wrote on January 29th, 2014
  26. Would add jump rope to #19. Can warm up to a sprint level using various techniques and steps. Not to mention double (triple+) unders.

    Dave wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • would you say a bit more on jump rope workouts ?

      kay wrote on January 29th, 2014
      • Hi Kay -

        I alter jump rope, jog and sprint workout with the rope getting most of my cardio if you will (I know cardio is a bad word in some circles). There are lots of resources out there, but it is a great activity that works all major muscle groups. I have attached a few vids to youtube the basics. A good rope (I prefer the speed rope models that have a cable that is encases in a protective barrier), a forgiving surface (stay away from concrete/asphalt/tile… Wood flooring is best) and some patience. I started working 30 second intervals but am now up to about 15 minutes per break. That has taken me about 2 – 3 years to reach that. I typically do about 20 – 40 minutes per workout. Those are the sprint type workouts. Those can be done be as quickly as you can, running in place while jumping the rope. Can also jump of the balls of both feet as quickly as possible. You will be surprised at how efficient your body becomes at barely jumping, yet clearing the rope. The ‘double under’ is the coveted move where the rope clears under the jumper 2 times for each jump. The sprint aspect comes in when you can string double unders together for a high impact workout. Good luck to you! Hope that helps.

        Jump rope basics:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIIIXLhK8vw

        Double Unders: The tough but ‘Gold Standard’ of hard core training enthusiasts.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXovowbMsLE

        Dave wrote on January 29th, 2014
  27. Hey Mark,
    How about a post on “Stay in One Place Sprints”— jump rope, squat jumps, burpees?

    waterfall wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Yes, I’d love more about jump rope especially– I loved it like crazy as a kid, but now it hurts my knees– some advice to work my way back into it if possible, or whether I should just avoid it… ???

      Paleo-curious wrote on January 29th, 2014
  28. I sprint once a week, usually two sets of 8 sprints (80 meters approx) with 2 min rest between sets, on the grass. I started with 3 sets of 4, did not measure rest time then. But now I do the total 16 intervals in less time than the original 12!

    wildgrok wrote on January 29th, 2014
  29. I sprint on beach sand 3 or 4 times for 20- 30 seconds during 1 hour jog 2-3 (down from 3-4 at Mark’s suggestion–I think?) times a week, plus a few sets of 30-40 step stairs (from sand to street along Long Beach, CA). Don’t sprint on sidewalk or asphalt or hills (up or down) due to fear of injury. (Signal Hill where I jog alternate days with beach is pretty steep in spots). No problems so far and wind is much improved. Do incline pushups and squats and dips but not strong enough to do pull- or chin-ups. (I’m 59 yo male 5′ 10″ 207 lbs down from 224 pre-paleo/primal) Plus, even with video, can’t figure out planks. Seems more like yoga pose than exercise…also do “sun salutations” once in awhile for stretching…eliminating all milk products after watching Loren C. on Paleocon a couple of days ago!

    Corey B. (Long Beach, CA) wrote on January 29th, 2014
  30. How about kettle bell swings as a sprint?

    Carol wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • I would say the kettle bell swings are like half way between sprints and ‘cardio’.

      RobLL wrote on January 29th, 2014
  31. A bath isn’t a ‘warm up’, apart from raising the skin’s surface temperature.

    It’s a core temperature increase we’re after, but more importantly a NEUROLOGICAL change. That’s why a bath is NOT a useful warm up, and neither is static stretching. But as Mark points out, dynamic stretches are an ideal warm up.

    Move from general movements i.e. joint rotations and dynamic stretches (leg raises in three directions) to specifics (slow jog, fast jog, run, then sprint).

    An excellent author on stretching is Thomas Kurz.

    Carey wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • Not sure if this was a response to my comment, as I said a “sauna” is a good warmup, not a “bath”. I think a bath could be helpful too, like Mark mentioned in his post.

      There are tons of studies that demonstrate the benefits of heat for loosening up muscles…here’s one!

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18796753?dopt=Abstract

      Brian Stanton wrote on January 30th, 2014
  32. Thanks for sharing the knowledge Mark – especially the rest-interval and dynamic stretch advice..
    I’ll quickly say.. 10-15 minutes in the sauna is a great warmup at the gym. I have some significant musculoskeletal issues in my back…and standing / dynamic stretching in the sauna beforehand helps me loosen up.
    From my experience, the recumbent bike is great for those with back issues…it provides support and helps keep the back still during intense intervals.

    Brian Stanton wrote on January 29th, 2014
  33. Pulled my groin first time i did hill sprints. Went to hard first time out. Lesson learned!

    BadWolf wrote on January 29th, 2014
  34. Mark,

    I really like your Point 19. Thanks for being flexible in the choice of “sprint vehicle”.

    Grok On!

    Joe wrote on January 29th, 2014
  35. Found this article helpful after pulling a hamstring during sprint training a few months ago.

    https://www.defrancostraining.com/ask-joe/41-strength-training/177-indestructible-hamstrings.html

    Leg curls are not enough to protect you from pulling a hamstring. Straight leg “kickbacks” have been working for me. Also, really stretching out your glutes(your butt) and hip flexors is an important preventative move. I’m talking about incorporating those moves into your routine in general. Not before a sprint session.

    Nate wrote on January 29th, 2014
  36. I know I sound like a broken record, but hoop dance is the BEST warm-up ever!

    Paleo-curious wrote on January 29th, 2014
  37. I didn’t read all of the comments, but for us winter folk, here’s where I have been with it: snowshoe sprinting. Your last blog got me to thinking I really can do this, so I have been in a corn field sprinting up the snowy rows, uphill. I walk down first, about half a mile, then do short bursts back up. Just rubbed down my thighs with a small wooden thing with balls on it and it felt great! Thanks for encouraging those of us who may be intimidated by ultra-athlete activities. I have been getting up to about 10 long burst strides on the snow shoes! Great!

    Susan wrote on January 29th, 2014
    • I’m jealous! That sounds like heaps of fun! :-)

      Peter wrote on January 30th, 2014
  38. Surprised to read the recommendation against using the treadmill for sprinting. Actually it’s the second time I’ve read it in the past few weeks. I read that Mercola is against it also. Unfortunately, running on ground aggravates a lower back issue I have (reason I gave up jogging years ago) and for whatever reason the treadmill doesn’t. I’m pushing 60 and I’ve been doing tabata sprinting ever since I read about it several months ago in The Primal Blueprint. It’s worked well for me and I’m pretty much addicted to it. The level of intensity was brutal in the beginning but with the standard tabata cycle of 20 sec work/10 sec rest x8, I’m now up to 7mph at a 10 incline on the lifefitness treadmill. If I do the 30 second work/90sec rest x8, I can do 8.5mph.. I do it 3 times a week and enjoy it so much more than the hour plus of “chronic cardio” I was accustomed to. Like Mark says, humans were made to sprint. Though I’m not at all bored on the treadmill I am going to experiment with doing tabata on some other machines, kettlebells or other exercises.

    jim wrote on January 29th, 2014
  39. I’ve fallen victim to mistake #9. It was my junior year of high school, and I was preparing for the regional 400 meter dash. Ripped up the bottom of both my feet. I still competed, but I did not repeat that mistake my senior year.

    K Jackson wrote on January 29th, 2014
  40. As an extra challenge you can try running in the pouring rain in a muddy field – but do at own risk – its a exhilararting experience though. Make sure your path is not near any solid objects like trees or fences in case you slip and go for a slide…

    I am guessing Grok may have had days where he had no choice but to sprint and evade a predator in woodlands regardless of the weather conditions, where a slip would have meant him becomming dinner.

    I also picture that scene in the movie “Apocalypto” where they play the game where one person is made to run and they throw spears and arrows at him – if you were the runner, how fast would you run ?

    Storm wrote on January 29th, 2014

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