Sprint Heel Recovery

I’m pulling an interesting article together for Athletics Weekly (aka AW) on sprint technique and in particular the height of the heel in the recovery phase for both max velocity and acceleration phases of sprinting. here’s a snippet to whet your appetite for the article which will be out later this month.

Contemporary sprint coaching has been placing a greater emphasis on a lower heel recovery or at least a different inflection on how the heel is moved back to front and how this is coached. We will first consider max velocity running and then acceleration. 
If the heel is cast out too far behind the body when sprinting then the frequency and power transference will tend to be reduced. You’ll often see this in sprinters with a pronounced forward lean with “more work being done behind the body”. 
Key is the position of the foot and the gap between the heel and the bottom as the foot pulls through to the front. If the foot is pulled up as it should be for foot-strike (dorsi-flexed) it will come through to the front as a shorter lever and this will create a greater frequency. 
Doing this will also create greater power on ground contact, due to the fact that the foot (and leg) has increased velocity (angular velocity) which will, in turn, create a more powerful impact on the track surface and therefore greater energy return.

​I found it really interesting exploring this aspect of sprinting and trying to make sense of what’s more coaching inflection and thought rather than sports science-based (particularly the case with max velocity phase heel recovery). I have long worked on heel recovery with the jumpers and sprinters in my group. In doing so greater hip power will be developed which is perhaps the real benefit of heel recovery work as the muscles to the front and the rear of the hips are the most important when it comes to sprint speed.

I’ll be posting a video on this very shortly in the Sprint Drills series which is proving popular on my YouTube channel. In the meantime here’s the latest video in the series which looks at what I call basic drills for specific conditioning purposes.