Legs going sideways at start.

I have noticed lately that when I go for a rapid acceleration, my legs
go sideways in the first several strides. Even from a standing start.
I don’t know if this is good or not.
Perhaps I’m comming out at too low an angle and my legs are forced to go slightly sideways? Perhaps it’s just naturally what they should do. Just about every sprinter does this though and my question is; is it actually ideall ?

Good question, I don’t have the technical expertise to saw anything concrete but from my observations, as you say it seems to happen inevitably. I see it a lot in fast but not so advanced sprinters (10.60-10.80 guys in my training group). It seems they come out with their legs very sideways, for some time when I was a newbie I thought that was good and was something I was looking to do as a sign I was improving my acceleration. But now I think about it and the legs going too sideways certainly must not be good. It means that you’re losing power because you’re stepping inefficiently (with the inside of your spike plate). The cause? The logical reasons I can think is that it’s due to not enough strength or technique to sustain the early acceleration angles, so although you see it in advanced sprinters they’re probably not doing it at as a pronounced angle as a beginner and they’re probably stepping well. Anyone with a more informed opinion, just wanted to throw something out to see if we discuss this.

I’m not 100 % sure but I think that legs going a little bit sideways (slightly larger than the hips) are good for balance. When you start, due to a pushing with the front leg, there are lateral forces and this increase in stance can avoid the center of mass to be out of the support base. However, the legs should be at hip stance after a few steps.

LOL I have the same problem, I can barely stay in my lane on the first step (I didn’t even notice until my training partner pointed it out.

If you look at a lot of the elite sprinters, Mo, ato, tim, they all seem to run on the very edge of the lanes in their first few steps. If those powerhouses do it it can’t be all bad, right? Or maybe they’re all just doing someting horribly wrong!! eh, proly not. It might not be a bad thing to run with a wide stance, as Nick Roy pointed out, but you should definately try and stay inside your lanes.

The lateral subsystem hard at work. There is always a slight lateral shift of the pelvis (this accounts for the change in center of gravity when you shift from one leg to the other; this shift is dependent on your velocity). As you increase in horizontal velocity, forward momentum eliminates this shift (most of the time) and thereby moves you in a straight line to the finish.

But to be the devils advocate, isn’t that the whole point in pumping our arms really hard, and having really strong obliques, that we can handle all that power that we’re putting out at a slight outwards angle, and aim it in a straight line si we don’t lose efficiency or waste precious ATP???

ABS-olutely. Any breakdown in balance (the performance of stability) or mobility will increase metabolic cost, increase structural wear, and decrease efficiency. But, it happens. Terribly difficult to fix, but possible.

This does not happen to me. I feel left out!

I used to push out sideways thinking it helped me to get more power into the ceter line, but I soon discovered that I was wasting energy , plus, my shoes slipped, and I had to run the race, recovering from a slip, and shoes that are peeled on the instep don’t look very good. :stuck_out_tongue:

could deep squats possibly help correct this problem with an athlete whose strength numbers are particually low on the squat compared to their other lifts?

I don’t know about deep squat but lunging or step-ups may help. Pay attention to foot position. Anyone ever seen Lebron James at the ankles. His feet are big-time externally rotated and he has some inversion at the ankle. How can he possibly produce maximum force in that position? He can’t. Pay attention to your hip in lunge positions. Don’t allow the hip to abduct, if it does your knee will pronate and your ankle will externally rotate. You could also try to single leg stabilization exercises (either sagital or frontal plane dominant). Lateral/Medial hops help along with sagital plane hops.

Could you clarify what you’re saying about the lunges?

What does it mean when someone’s knees point inwards a little and therefore their calves sort of bow outwards and their feet pronate? When they run, they also feel a little pain on about a 2 inch portion on the inside bottom portion of the shin?
Also if they balance on one leg, they tend to shift to the outside of their feet.

It could be lots of things, but typically it is weakness in the gluteus medius (hip stabilizer and abductor) and tightness in the adductors, sometimes associated with tight peroneals and weakness in posterior tibialis. If your hip shifts (normally it’s only on one leg) then train the gluteus medius and stretch the adductors. Practice isometric stabilization exercises and progress to dynamic impact-demand stabilization exercises. If you’re not getting full contact on the ball of your foot and your feet are pointed outward, how can you possibly run straight as fast as possible. You can’t. Coaches often talk about lateral movement, but they don’t talk about your foot position in those movements. Lots of athletes when they are moving laterally, and even linearly, have their feet pointed outward. This needs to be corrected to ensure maximal progress. If your knees pronate (knees pointing inward) this can place excessive stress on the connective tissues at the knee. I wonder why there are so many ACL injuries? This problem is even worse with female athletes because of the enhanced q-angle in relation to the knee. Without proper stability they will never reach elite levels of performance. Proximal stability must precede distal.

Thanks. What would be some examples of the mentioned exercises in the first paragraph.

How does one correct feet pointing outward (more of a pronation) AND knees pointing inwards at the same time? There has been some noticeable stress on the knees and a small area of one shin feeling similar to splints. Anything other than orthotics?

Generally my feelings on orthotics is it’s kind’ve like gastric-bypass. When we learned to walk and run, our feet weren’t like that. There’s a reason that our feet are pointed out now just like there’s a reason that people are “extremely” overweight. Single-leg stabilization (standing like a crane), Walking Lateral Squats, etc. Train the gluteus medius: you could stand and do single-leg hip abduction, that way your training one hip in stabilization and the other hip dynamically. It takes time. Also, attempt to have a massage therapist work on the IT-band. The fascia becomes extremely tight.

Great point - I have some nasty it band tightness that I’m just starting to fix. It showed up probably due to external foot rotation. I assume I picked up the habit from playing hockey.

Yeah, there’s not a lot of sports (besides hockey) that combine hip abduction with external rotation. A lot of stress there.

So I shouldn’t bother with inline skating as an enjoyable form of recovery training? There’s lots of abduction but also adduction with inline skating as u go from one leg to the other.

Sprinting is far more important to me than inline skating.

If it isn’t making you tight why worry?