The Role of the Upper Body in Sprinting

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Sprinting technique is something that can help athletes run a lot faster.

Most athletes than have not undergone formal training in the matter are robbing themselves of their sprinting performance.

The craziest part of all of this: a lot of these athletes are blazing fast despite technique flaws and physical limitations.

Giving them the tools to perfect their technique and run even faster is the fun part.

There are a few areas of the upper body that need to be addressed for optimal sprinting. The legs might be the driving force but the upper body cannot be ignored.

Arm Action

This is a simple fix for athletes. The arms should be swinging forward and backward.

When the arms start to cross the midline of the body, we have an energy leak. We are trying to sprint in a straight line but the arms are moving side to side.

A lot of young athletes get caught up in a full body panic when it is time to start sprinting. They cannot control all of the moving parts.

Its almost like they have the same mindset of Ricky Bobby when it comes time to sprint.

ricky bobby

Good arm action helps propel the sprint.

Using the arms as a driving force, in opposition to the legs, can increase speed.

Practice arm action by moving through the shoulders in a forward and backward motion. Keep the hands relaxed and use the arm swing to your advantage.

Core Stability

In order to sprint effectively, core stability has to be present.

A stable core will allow better range of motion at the hip and faster sprints.

Those with low levels of stability look as though they are bouncing back and forth. This is another energy leak.

Movement outside of the arms and legs driving is not recommended.

Core stability is also necessary for a good knee drive.

If someone displays an anterior pelvic tilt (APT), there is a lack of anterior core control.

When the pelvis tilts forward, the ability to drive the knees becomes limited. Hip range of motion is reduced when APT is present. This will not allow optimal knee drive during a sprint.

Training core stability will help both of these situations out. A stable core can resist this side to side motion and bring the pelvis back to neutral.

T Spine Extension

The ability for the upper spine to extend is a hidden need for proper sprinting.

Good sprint technique requires extension of the spine. Poor T Spine mobility will cause a few negative effects.

One is that a lack of extension can result in APT, as mentioned above. This can be a chicken and the egg type of scenario but they are related nonetheless.

The inability to extend through the T spine could potentially cause a rounded over posture when running. This is not an ideal sprinting posture and should be avoided.

Every area of the body affects each other up and down the chain. An immobile T Spine will create a mobile low back and a mobile low back will create immobile hips. Immobile hips are not going to sprint fast.

There is still a ton of investigating left to do on this topic and I really am only scratching the surface with these ideas.

The qualities mentioned above are simple to train and will yield progress quickly. T spine extension and core stability are two qualities that the average person lacks.

Take a look at any young kid that is just running around. Chances are they have no clue what to do with their arms.

They have not learned how to use them to their advantage but the results are great once they do.

There will be more to come on this topic.