Hip height and toe-off.


I’ve read about importance of high hip height, as it helps with shorter ground contact time, less pawing (less likelihood of hamstring injury, more vertical displacement, less braking forces), and faster stride frequency.

However, I’ve been recently struggling with hip height, especially when doing high knees and perhaps running As.

I’ve read about causes and corrections for hip height issues, as stated in micro review e book. I’m definitely not driving my knees past parallel, and maybe it could be recently arising quad tightness (haven’t been able to release them as much).

I found the third one interesting; The attempt to maintain dorsiflexion throughout the entire stride cycle (yes, some people recommend this!), causing the loss of propulsion forward and upward that would result from the full extension of the foot. This action also prevents full extension at the support knee.

If I am having such issue, what can be drills or something that could fix this? It’s not very easy to transition between full, powerful foot and ankle extension, or toe-ff and tight dorsiflexion. Is this issue common at all?

Most of drills I know focus more on hips and knees (bounding, hills, explosive med balls, etc). Pogo jumps focus on ankle, but I don’t know how that would carry over to sprinting and well synchronized triple extension (like, shooting basketball with poor wrist snap will result in poor, weak throw).

I am definitely keeping my shoulders down, although relaxation needs a lot more work, and arm action is there ROM wise. I definitely need to re-introduce more flexibility, muscle tone issues though.

Work on the big issue first, which it sounds like is flexibility. That should help the relaxation, hip height and even dorsiflexion. You can definitely work on dorsiflexion during drills (A’s & B’s marches, skips and runs) but major tightness and muscle tone issues will have a cascading effect and fixing that should improve some of the other issues.

Flexibility will come with plenty of therapy, get massaged, foarmrolling, cupping, acupuncture and so on. The looser you become, the more flexibility you’ll achieve.

No flexibility = you’re just running fast
No flexibility = you cannot sprint

This is no quick fix though - requires work and commitment

when Iswitched events to javelin and had to commit a large amount of time to stretching and ROM, nearly all of my sprinting mechanic problems that I ahd struggled with for years as a sprinter suddenly disapeared

Well, with dorsiflexion, I meant working on not staying dorsiflexed when extending hips and knees. I wonder if working on flexibility, mobility, and muscle tones would solve that issue as well.

Thank you.

I wish I had time and money for manual therapy. When you mean with no flexibility, you’re just running fast, but cannot sprint, do you mean you’re just “trying” to run fast, but with less than potentially achievable speed due to suboptimal technique?

Thank you.

Does javelin athletes require and perform more mobility stuff than sprinters do (in general)?? I would think sprinters would do just as much mobility as javelin athletes, but do it in more sprint mechanic specific ways. Were you doing less mobility as a sprinter than as a javelin thrower?

Thank you.

Yes Javelin requires more mobility, but most athletes don’t do enough particularly runners.

The height of the hips over the ground is a function of power output. The more power you apply to the ground, the more reaction force the ground will apply back thereby propelling you higher off the ground and of course farther forward. It’s not something you can deliberately do.

For something like A drills, your power output is obviously much lower than during sprinting, so your hip height will not be that great. The focus of the drills should be posture and proper leg mechanics.

As far as maintaining dorsiflexion throughout the whole stride, I’m not sure it’s even possible. The reaction at the ankle joint is so fast I don’t think you would be able to stop plantar flexion at toe off. Also, full speed video of sprinters can create a lot of optical illusions. If you watch Charlie’s seminar videos, he addresses this point. However, I think attempting to resist plantar flexion will cause you to chop the stride short, which will most likely cause the hips to drop because of the power drop off.

The cue I would use is the one Charlie used with me: cock the foot and step down. Don’t think about anything but stepping down. What happens under and behind your body will happen so fast you shouldn’t feel it. If you do feel it, your exaggerating the motion, which is slowing you down. The correct action subjectively feels like you’re stamping your feet up and down. It won’t feel like you’re cycling your legs.

Well, thank you. Now I know even more so not to make such mistake.

Even for the A drill, having high hip height is part of the good posture, isn’t it? In his South Africa video, Coach Francis fixes hip height issue during running A by not letting them drive knee too high (not let support knee buckle), speeding up cadence, and being more upright.

Maybe as you said, plantarflexion does occur even with attempting to stay dorsiflexed (which is wrong), but I can see that it’d definitely reduce net force applied towards increasing speed.

I guess with the using up and down cue, I now think of focusing on only a cue or two at once, so that I’m not overwhelmed thinking about too many corrections at once. Maybe focus on dorsiflexion for a while, and on different sessions focus on step down cue.

Thank you.

Yes, if your mechanics are correct your hip height will be optimal within the context of the drill. I was speaking in absolute terms. Even for A drills I would think about the foot and not the knee, which hopefully will keep you from driving the knee too high.

One of the main technique flaws I had when I worked with Charlie was driving my knees too high. Charlie’s cues shifted my focus from the knee to the foot, and it made all the difference.