Thursday, February 7, 2013

Why Running with High Knees Slows You Down

There are many myths about how to run with more speed. If one person is asking a question, then there must be many others with the same question. And, real questions lead to real answers and real results. Call me or email with your sports fitness question! People want to know the answer.

Client Q: Do you need to run with "high knees" to improve speed?

Mark's A: No, don't run with high knees. This is one of the biggest myths out there. When you run with "high knees," you are using your hip flexors to lift your legs instead of your glutes.

Your glutes can generate more force (and therefore more speed) than the smaller hip flexors. The knee should raise up to where the thigh is parallel to the ground. The foot then drops down below the knee (knee angle is about 90 degrees).

The heel needs to kick up high. The faster the running speed, the higher the heel on the rear foot should kick up. When the foot leaves the ground, it should follow a path straight up to the buttocks. It should not flail from side to side.

Another related point: relax and you will run faster. Actually, you will do any activity better if you will just relax. Here are some pointers to help you relax your running style:

a. Do a dynamic warmup before your workout or game. A dynamic warmup will prepare your body best for practice or games. Do static stretches after your workout or game (when muscles are warm) to increase your range of motion.

b. Make sure your "power center" is flexible. An athlete's "power center" consists of the glutes, hips, quadriceps and hamstrings.

c. Your hip flexors need to be flexible. Tight hip flexors cause many problems, including problems with your glutes and hamstrings.

d. When you run, remember to relax your face, shoulders, arms and torso. You want your body to work like a "well oiled machine."

Read about correct running mechanics in this post.

Call me or email with your sports fitness question! People want to know the answer!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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