Paleo Fitness: Run for Your Life

You should approach sprinting as an art to be practiced and nothing else. It’s not something to be thrown around loosely. Sprinting, when done right (and when done at the right times), ignites the metabolic furnace and triggers the muscle-building machinery. When done wrong, or when horribly overworked, it’s potentially injurious.

Properly preparing your body for the rigors of sprinting is imperative. This exercise is a super high-velocity movement, so don’t go into it cold. Strides are one way to prime the body for sprinting. Whatever you do, just be sure to ease your way into an all-out sprint.

Here are the elements of proper sprinting mechanics to strive for:

  • Heel has minimal contact with the ground.

  • Foot strikes the ground roughly under the hips.

  • Torso remains fairly upright and stays at the same height throughout the sprint.

  • Elbows stay at 90 degrees.

  • Shoulders (not elbows) initiate arm swing.

  • Movement of the arms match the movement of the legs in a contralateral fashion (arm rises and falls with opposite leg).

    [Credit: Photo courtesy of Rebekah Ulmer]
    Credit: Photo courtesy of Rebekah Ulmer

If, for whatever reason, sprinting on foot isn’t for you, try bike sprints. Bike sprints are similar to running sprints in that you try to move as quickly as possible, basically going all out as you pedal the bike. You can use a stationary bike or a regular one if you prefer. Although bike sprints aren’t as beneficial as running sprints, they allow for a lower impact variation of sprinting.

Sprinting may feel awkward at first, especially if you haven’t done it in a while. But, as with all other forms of movement, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Treat sprinting as practice instead of a workout. The sweat will come, but let it be the consequence of diligent rehearsal, not mindless running for running’s sake.

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