Research Help Please Re: Training By Youths On Synthetic Track


IS ANYONE HERE AWARE of any research/articles that highlight issues of long term injury of athletes using synthetic surfaces to train, in particular, young athletes (10-16) and repetitive plyometric training".

If anyone has info pertaining to surveys on this important matter, please post a link -

kk :slight_smile:

Hort, W. : Ursachen, Klinik, Therapie und prophylaxe der Schaden auf LeichtathletikKunststoffbahenen. Leistungssport (FRG) 1976, t6, n°1, pp 48-52.

Dysko B. : Contemporary problems of sport shoes biomechnaics and synthetic surface : the load of contacts (in Russian). Teorija i praktika fiziceskoj kultury URSS 1989, n 9, pp 48-53, 6 p 69

Brjanchina E. : Jump exercises on soft surfaces, an efficient way to decrease foot contact load in strengthening the body (in Russian). Teorija i praktika fiziceskoj kultury RUS 1996, n 2, pp 43-44, 2 p 13.

Dufek J., Bates B. : Biomechanical factors associated with injury during landing injump sports. Sports medicine HONG-KONG 1991, t 12, n 5, pp 326-337, 12 p 56.

Andreasson G., Olofsson B. : Surface and shoes deformation in sport activities and injuries. Biomechanical aspects of sport and playing surfaces: proceedings of the international symposium on biomechanical aspects of sports shoes and playing surfaces University of Calgary, Canada CANADA 1983, pp 51-61, 11 p.

Hope you can find these articles, i personally don’t have them. :wink:

you’re a genius - and so helpful.

Yeah, good luck with that! :stuck_out_tongue: Probably best to find a lit review in this area/PhD thesis and take it from there.

Or go to a big town library, these review can be found all sport center libraries

pierrejean…thanks for your expertise!

If anyone does find any of these articles, please let us know. They would be very useful in convincing coaches to vary up their surfaces when training athletes.

If you go to (Thanks to Christian Thibaudeau for that) The Dufek J., Bates B. Biomechanical factors associate… is at Does anyone no how to get more than an abstract. It is also referenced in other interesting studies. One is an article at The russian studies could possibly be attained from Dr. Yessis? I live close to UC Irvine (15 minutes). I’ll check out UCI this week. UCLA and USC are about 1:15 if the interest is there. Merci Beaucoupe(my french is not so good).

Thanks acudave et al,
This is a topic of concern to many.
I’ve tried to keep athletes I coach doing volume on grass and only switching to synth tracks for fast track sessions. Then of course there is the risk of shin-splints due to swapping from soft to hard surfaces. That’s another story.

“Kit Kat”

I agree with your approach, as I now only have athletes train on grass. We use to train on the synthetic surface but I was getting too many athletes complaining of soreness and unable to back up the next day.

We compete occasionally on the synthetic surfaces, and the feedback generally is that the athletes feel sore after competing on synthetic, so we have an easier grass session the next day.

I don’t like using both surfaces for training purposes, for the reasons you mentioned, ie: shin splints.

btw, are you back coaching again? If so, anyone of note?

McHahon TA and Green P. Fast running tracks. SC Am 239:146-163, 1978

McHahon TA and Green P The influence of track compliance of running. J Biom 12: 893-904, 1979

Over twenty years has passed since the revolutionary work by Green and McMahon on surface stiffness on running mechanics. Their findings have later been supported by Weyland, Farley 2002. What they found was that stiffer surfaces increased performance and decrease injury. The underlying mechanisms was by shorter contact time & greater stride length. Because stiffer surfaces allows for greater recoil of elastic energy, the metabolic cost of running is reduced.

So according to research synthetic tracks are superior for a few reasons.

1- lower metabolic cost
2- faster times
3- decrease number of injuries
4- more compliant surface enables
greater recoil of elastic energy.

But I don’t the think the issue is that simple. For runners that have the strength in ligaments, tendons, and in muscles to be able stay tall and keep rigid on ground contact synthetic tracks are better suited. Since they are strong enough to deform the track without collapsing on ground contact.

For the less skilled performer a flat grass track in better suited. Weaker athletes tend to collapse on stiffer surfaces, which leads excessive loading on the achilles.


The first thought coming in mind is that in the thousandth articles, you will always find studies contradicting each others.

I’m glad to see that scientists found out that synthetic tracks make faster times! :stuck_out_tongue: Longer stride length? It was from Mexico 68 games that most 400m hurdlers suddenly deleted one stride between hurdles compared to the number they used to do on cinder tracks, no need to go on very scientific studies here, just count 13 strides instead of 14! lol. But concerning injury issue, it seems that study drawn a too beautiful world. Ask Gebrselasie how he felt after Atlanta’s 10000m and why no male doubled 5000-10000m there (on the female side only Wang Junxia did it).

Just to confirm PJ on this, if I may.

Dr Woldemeskel Kostre: Father of Ethiopian Athletics:
Kostre’s Biggest Regret
Kostre’s coaching career and life have received various twists and turns, but he says that nothing can erase from his mind his bitterness in the Atrlanta Olympics. The world had given its attention to newly-found track star Haile Gebrselassie’s Olympic debut and Kostre had prepared him for months in Addis Ababa so that he could emulate Miruts Yifter’s Olympic 5,000/10,000 m double.
“When we reached Atlanta, we discovered the weather to be very hot and the track to be very hard,” he recalls. “Haile had qualified for the 10,000 m final and when he won that race in an Olympic record time, the soles of his feet were bleeding. He could not run the 5,000 m the next day. We both cried the whole night as he tried to lessen the swelling with ice. But at the end, there was no option but to withdraw.”

Not that it was their fault, but such can the “advantages” of hard surfaces be -within a single race!

Thanks Sharmer, if you dig up anything on the relationship between synthetic tracks and injury please post. thanks kk


It would be hard to establish a link because most synthetic tracks differ in the degrees of stiffness. If it was found true that injuries are more likely to occur on synthetic tracks, then the hypothesis would have to be individually tested across a wide range of synthetic training surfaces.

From my personal experience the track at Narrabeen is far inferior surface to the one at Homebush. I think the surface is too thin and hard which negates the elastic rebound. For this reason I believe over use injuries are more likely to occur at Narrabeen as opposed to Homebush.

Studies on soft surfaces (sand, trampolines) show runners have longer contacts times & the Center of gravity deviates much more causing a higher metabolic cost.

In order to research your question I need to know what type of synthetic track do your athletes train on?

Legeune, Mechanics and energetics for human locomotion on sand, J Exp biology 201, 1998

McMahon. Groucho running. J. applied physiology, 1987

I agree with your comments on the less skilled athlete, however if an elite performer is training far enough bellow maximum speed or is fatigued, then I’m willing to bet you’d see them collapsing at the hip, knee and ankle joints.

It’s funny you should mention your comparison between Narrabeen and Homebush. The same topic came up in conversation the other day with some world level elite athletes, and the conclusion was the exact opposite. Homebush as a track is hard and dead (Not to mention full of bubbles) Narrabeen on the otherhand is still relatively soft, as rekotan is generally laid softer and doesn’t weather as quickly as mondo. Basically tho, Homebush is a terrible track, compare it to a decent Mondo track such as Melbourne and you’ll see the difference.

It has been 2 years since our current track was laid and the number of stress fractures suffered by athletes since then has risen dramatically.

Now I know a lot of these athletes have been training on track 5 times a week throught the year (once again brain dead coaches) but I was wondering if anyone can explain this.

My thinking is that the new track is a lot harder than the previous one but people have not adjusted thier training accordingly. Has anyone else had any problems when tracks are relaid?

Does anyone ever adjust thier training according to the track they are running on and what adjustments do they make?

If given time can people adapt to new tracks or if they are a lot harder do you have to cut back the volume?



5 days a week does seem excessive if the surface is hard and fast, i dont think you could adapt to that kind of volume on such a surface. Adaptation is a process that requires sufficent recovery for microtrauma of connective tissues and muscoskeletal loading.

Its seems overtly clear that the stress fractures experienced are a result from excessive training on a hard track.

The majority of these athletes are hurdlers. So they “need” to work on the track all year round because of lack of grass.

I agree. The harder the surface and the more frequent the exposure to it, the more injuries. the more the trauma is ignored, the more likely small problems (shin splints) become big problems (stress fractures)