Tip: How to Sprint Without Getting Injured

Sprinting is like jogging for people who want to look good naked. Here's how to get started without getting hurt.

Sprint, With Caution

The bigger and heavier you are, the more force you can potentially apply against a resistance. Vigorous exercises like sprinting ask for extremely aggressive contractions both concentrically and eccentrically, especially if you aren't in a regular habit of getting out to the track.

Sprinting could open you up to straining, pulling, or even tearing muscles, regardless of technique. Here's how to prevent that.

How to Sprint Safely

  • Always leave something in the tank. You're sprinting for conditioning and the athletic and health benefits, not for competition. A trained sprinter knows there's a huge difference between sprinting at 90% of max speed versus going balls to the wall. Sticking with 90% output will leave you significantly more relaxed and it'll encourage fluidity.
  • Stick with longer sprint distances. Thirty and 40-meter distances encourage you to tighten up and get to the line with less regard for anything other than a mad dash. Sprinting at 85 or 90% of your maximum speed limit is still sprinting. Give yourself a bit more rest time and do some 100-150 meter sprints. Not only will they help you open up your stride, but they'll give you more time under tension and really attack your conditioning.
  • For a good sprint workout, perform proper mobility drills, stretches, and warm-up sprint drills like A skips, running A's, butt kicks, and carioca. After a few preparatory sprints at 30-40 meters each (resting as long as needed), perform 2 x 80m, 2 x 100m, and 4 x 120m. Take your time walking back to your starting line between reps and rest an additional 30-60 seconds before going again.
  • Use a "falling" start rather than exploding from a dead stop. The gradual change in joint angles will make it easier for you to fall into proper drive phase positioning and give the muscles less "shock" during the first strides. If you want to be extra safe, start sprinting from a 5-10 stride jog.

Falling Start Sprint

Can I Just Use a Treadmill?

It's not ideal. For the most part, sprinting on a machine that has a belt speed limit of just 12 miles per hour isn't sprinting. Elite athletes reach top end speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour during the 100 meter dash. You may not be elite, but it's still reasonable to think you can move faster than 12 miles per hour over ground, 'cause that's really slow.

Also, the moving belt is pulling your leg through the motion instead of by active hip extension. It's best to learn good form and get to sprinting outside.