There have been some interesting comments about knee extension when sprinting on some of the videos that I have made so I thought I would make a post specifically about knee extension. Let’s take a look at the knee extension of the best sprinters in the world to get an idea of what are the correct front side mechanics of the top sprinters.
It’s not really a question about whether or not knee extension happens as we see Noah Lyles and Usain Bolt both extend their knees when they run. The debate is about whether that knee extension is active (deliberate) on the part of sprinters or it is a passive (natural) phenomenon with runners having no control over the movements during the process.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the knee extensions of famous sprinters to find out the reality behind the mechanics of knee extension when sprinting.
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Knee Extension as an Active Effort
Personally, I subscribe to this school of thought. I say this because as a sprinter I want to have more control over the movements I make during my sprint. It boosts my confidence level to know that I have complete control over my body when I’m sprinting.
So, I believe that a lot of the top athletes are doing that too and their knee extension is an active part of their sprinting process rather than something that happens naturally.
If we observe Noah Lyles’ knee extension, we can see that his posture is supported by the extension. It helps him maintain that upright position when sprinting. But the question becomes when the athletes pull the leg back underneath their center of mass whether it actively or passively creates the knee extension. To me, either way, the result of knee extension is achieved it is just a matter of HOW?
As runners focus more on pulling their foot backward, it causes their knees to extend. For me personally, I think about driving my knees up and reaching with my foot out in front and then driving my foot back down underneath me while maintaining as much of an upright position in my body as possible. When doing this I reach down towards the ground in order to maximize the forces into the ground. This is what creates knee extension in my legs but it is not the only technique of how to run and there could be some flaws in my sprinting.
What We Can Say For Sure About Knee Extension
There’s no question that you want to get your knee extended before your foot makes contact with the ground. Everybody wants this part of the process to be perfect. The only difference that really remains then is the way you think like a runner.
I have also observed that the better you can achieve that knee extension, the better it’d be for your top-end speed. The guys that compete at the highest level seem to be getting that knee extension really well when sprinting. They pull their leg back underneath and maintain a knee-extended position for long.
When sprinting, you will be experiencing some knee bend immediately after your foot makes contact with the ground. However, you should minimize that bend as much as you can as the more the knee bend the more time is being spent on the ground per step.
Knee bending creates deceleration forces on the body. It’s really important when it comes to sprinting mechanics to understand which movements help you accelerate and what helps you decelerate. So when your foot lands you want to be able to minimize knee bend the most you can while the foot is on the ground.
For reference, just observe Noah Lyles’ and Usain Bolt’s knee transitions when they are sprinting.
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To answer the question above, knee extension when sprinting is an active part of the sprinting mechanics. The thought processes behind getting that extension might vary for different runners however, the movements are essentially the same.
Overall, it’s important to get that knee extension right and control the knee during the landing phase. To me the more I can control and understand my running mechanics it helps me out when I am running.
So those are some of the keys for how to improve your running mechanics if you liked the information presented in this post, feel free to check out our official website for more such information. We offer various programs to help you become a better athlete.
Have a great day!