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Frequently asked questions about running technique. HSI members answer.

Source: www.hsi.net
1. Are the arms important in sprinting? Arms dictate the rhythm while you are running. The body is a well-coordinated machine, arms and legs working in unison. When one is out of sync' so is the other. Your arms should be rhythmic,and constant. Be aware that if you swing your arms too fast, you will tire out your legs. The legs are longer, and bigger than the arms, which means two things; you can manipulate your arms easier, and the arms have to swing in a way that compensates for the legs. The angle of your arms should remain at 90 degrees, at the elbow. The only time this angle should change is when they "hit" back behind you, opening up no more than 120 degrees. The opening up of the angle allows your legs to complete the cycle of movement. Your arms should swing like a pendulum, providing a source of power, and carrying the rhythm of your sprinting.

2. How do I improve my speed? Sprinting has as much to do with biomechanics and technique as it has to do with natural speed. Many times a change in an angle, or an applied force can be the difference in a tenth of a second. Make it your business to be the best technician in the race. At certain points in your sprinting career, talent becomes relative-in other words, the sprinter that is the best with his or her technique will win more often than not.

3. How should my foot hit the ground? The point of contact with the ground is referred to as your "footstrike." There are a number of things you should be aware of concerning this part of sprinting; I will give you two basic points.The first, is the relationship of your foot with the ground at "footstrike," it should always be the "ball" of your foot. That is the pad just below your big toe. Many refer to it as being "on your toes,"this is not to be taken literally. If you are too high on your foot you will lose power, and expose your calves to fatigue. Running flat gives away too much time on the ground. You can refer to the optimal point as the "sweet spot." The second, is the movement ofthe foot at the point of contact. Since, the only way to producehorizontal force is to push off something, it begs the question "how do you propel yourself down the track?" We can produce the vertical force, but how do we use that force to get to the finish line? You have to have negative foot speed, this means your foot should be moving backwards at the point of contact, almost a clawing-like action. Most think it is a push off the back, but this can be dangerous because it opens your hamstrings up, and exposes them to injury.

4. I have watched you guys, and know that the start is very distinctive. Can you tell me about it? In the 100 meters, the start of the race sets up the rest of the race. Many put too much emphasis on starting fast, as opposed to starting correctly. The distinctive style of HSI sprinters was developed with the idea of making the start more consistent. It takes more than just speed at the world class level to be successful. At the end of a race, everyone gets tired, and it is the person that can maintain the best form that will win the race.

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