Research Help Please Re: Training By Youths On Synthetic Track

Why’s that? (I suspect you think it’s BS as well cause you put need in qoutes)

“Evans” is a relatively new member without access to Advanced Discussion Forum, but he posted these four articles by private message to me. Thanks :slight_smile: and here they are for anyone else interested.

research/articles - message 1


Since I don’t have access to the Advanced Discussion forum, I thought I’d just pm you these I ran across. They may or may not help. Note all of these are specifically geared towards track athletes, and youth, but they mention the relationship of injuries and surfaces.

Common injuries in preadolescent and adolescent athletes: recommendations for prevention.

Author(s): Stanitski, C.L.: Oakland Orthopedic Associates, 5820 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206, United States
Source: Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), Jan 1989: 7 (1). p. 32-41

Abstract: In general, children and youth sports are safe. The great majority of injuries which are sustained are minor and self-limiting. Fortunately, catastrophic acute injuries such as paraplegia, quadriplegia and major limb insults are rare. The 2 mechanisms of injuries at these age groups are acute traumatic insults and unresolved sequelae of repetitive microtrauma. The latter usually results from inappropriate training and coaching techniques. In the United States, adolescents and children are becoming involved in sport at earlier ages and with higher levels of intensity and competition. Factors which lead to injury include the athlete and his/her own psychobiology, inappropriate equipment, the sports environment (playing surfaces, temperature), training and coaching errors, and parental influences. Preparticipation assessment usually reveals extremely healthy children with rare factors which contribute to non-sports participation. Preventative efforts must be made to provide thesechildren with the appropriate equipment and coaching to limit the number of overuse injuries. Management of acute sports problems and rehabilitation of significant injuries are as important in childhood and youth sports as in those of their older sibs in order to prevent lifelong sequelae of musculoskeletal injury. The appropriate goal of children and youth sports must remain one of enjoyment with acquisition of sport-specific skills.

Surface selection: considerations for minimising lower limb injuries in netball

Source: In Sports Medicine Australia, Book of abstracts: 2000 Pre-Olympic Congress: International Congress on Sport Science, Sports Medicine and Physical Education, Brisbane Australia 7-12 September 2000, Australia, The Congress, 2000, p.335-336.

Sorry, no abstract.

Volleyball injuries: managing acute and overuse disorders.

Author(s): Briner, W.W.: Dept.of Family Practice, 6 South, Lutheran General Hospital, 1775 Dempster St, Park Bridge, IL 60068, United States; Benjamin, H.J.
Source: Physician and sportsmedicine (New York), Mar 1999: 27 (3). p. 48-49;53-54;57-60

Abstract: Most volleyball injuries are related to blocking or spiking, both of which involve vertical jumps. The most common acute injuries include ankle and thumb sprains, and common overuse injuries include patellar and shoulder tendinitis, suprascapular neuropathy, and low-back injury. Symptoms will usually resolve with conservative treatment, which may include activity modification, such as reduced jump training or jumping on a sand surface and technical instruction. Players who have significant symptoms from suprascapular neuropathy may require diagnostic electromyography and MRI before surgical decompression.

Biomechanical factors associated with injury during landing in jump sports

Author(s): Dufek, J.S.; Bates, B.T.
Source: Sports medicine (Auckland), Nov 1991: 12 (5). p. 326-337

Abstract: Many sport and movement activities contain a jumping component which necessitates landing. Several injury surveys across a variety of jump sports have identified the lower extremities and specifically the knee joint as being a primary injury site. Factors which might contribute to the frequency and severity of such injuries include stresses to which the body is subjected during performance (forces and torques), body position at landing, performance execution and landing surface. Most of the initial landing studies were primarily descriptive in nature with many of the more recent efforts being directed toward identifying the specific performance factors that could account for the observed system stresses. Continued investigations into landing are necessary to more thoroughly understand the force attenuation mechanisms and critical performance variables associated with lower extremity injuries.

Jumping injuries: their cause, possible prevention and rehabilitation.

Author(s): Burnett, A.
Source: Modern athlete and coach (Athelstone, S. Aust.), Apr 2001: 39 (2). p. 3-6

Sorry, no abstract.

Prevention of injuries in jumpers

Author(s): Bashkirov, V.; Safonov, V.; Shchukin, A.
Source: Soviet sports review 15(4), Dec 1980, 182-183

Sorry, no abstract.
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Simulation of the vertical ground reaction force on sport surfaces during landing

Author(s): Peikenkamp, K.: Institute of Sport Science, Westfaelische Wilhelms Universitaet of Munster, D-48149 Munster, Germany; Fritz, M.: Institute of Occupational Physiology, University of Dortmund, D-44139 Dortmund, Germany; Nicol, K.
Source: Journal of applied biomechanics (Champaign, Ill.), May 2002: 18 (2). p. 122-134

Abstract: The surface-athlete interaction is discussed as one possible factor in overuse injuries, as the ground reaction force does not depend only on the athlete’s movement during surface contact but also on the mechanical properties of the playing surface. Since it is extremely difficult to measure the ground reaction force on an area-elastic surface, two damped linear-spring models were combined to calculate both the vertical ground reaction force on area-elastic surfaces and their deformations during the athlete’s landing from a jump height of 0.45 m. The athlete model consists of 4 segments (feet, shanks, thighs, and rest of the body) and the surface model consists of 5 segments each connected (a) to the concrete and (b) to each other via an additional imaginary segment. While the connections to the concrete were kept constant, the surface mass and the connections between the segments were varied in order to consider different degrees of area-elasticity of the simulated surfaces.With this approach it was shown that both the passive and active maximum of the vertical ground reaction force depend only on the maximum deformation of the surface, whereas the force rates vary greatly for identical maximum deformations. It appears that these differences increase with increasing maximum deformation. Therefore, in constructing area-elastic sport surfaces, the maximum deformation allowed should be as large as would coincide with other functions the surface must fulfill. Subsequently, the surface mass interacting with the athlete during landing should be large and the damping properties between these mass-segments should be very small.

I have the full PDF of this one as well.


Shoe-surface interaction and the reduction of injury in rugby union

Author(s): Milburn, P.D.: School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand; Barry, E.B.
Source: Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), May 1998: 25 (5). p. 319-327
Abstract: While it is quite clear that footwear can provide protection against lower limb injury in running and some court sports, the literature related to footwear design and injury prevention in most sports played on natural turf is limited. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the design of footwear for rugby union and rugby league. Therefore, in this article, information from other sporting codes will be applied to the design and performance characteristics of footwear and surfaces in an attempt to understand the causes of equipment-related injuries in rugby. A complete understanding of the complex interactions between the leg, foot, footwear and the surface has not yet been achieved and as a consequence, precise footwear design criteria to minimise injury, while not compromising the performance aspects of shoe design, have yet to be established. The variable surface conditions experienced by players makes it difficult to provide recommendations as to the ideal footwear for all (orany) conditions. Equally, the ground reaction loads experienced by each player (and playing position) vary sufficiently to make generalisations difficult. Also, the foot-fall pattern during weight-bearing is highly individualised and further prohibits making general recommendations about selecting footwear for rugby.

I have the full PDF of this if you want it.

Biomechanical aspects of playing surfaces

Author(s): Nigg, B.M.; Yeadon, M.R.
Source: Journal of sports sciences (London), Summer 1987: 5 (2). p. 117-145
Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to discuss some biomechanical aspects of playing surfaces with special focus on (a) surface induced injuries, (b) methodologies used to assess surfaces and © findings from various sports. The paper concentrates primarily on questions related to load on the athlete’s body. Data from epidemiological studies suggest strongly that the surface is an important factor in the aetiology of injuries. Injury frequencies are reported to be significantly different for different surfaces in several sports. The methodologies used to assess surfaces with respect to load or performance include material tests and tests using experimental subjects. There is only little correlation between the results of these two approaches. Material tests used in many standardized test procedures are not validated which suggests that one should exercise restraint in the interpretation of these results. Point elastic surfaces are widely studied while area elastic surfaces havereceived little attention to date. Questions of energy losses on sport surfaces have rarely been studied scientifically.

Thanks for that guys, my thinking is that now we have 2 tracks side by side people train the same on the new track as they did on the old one but the new one is much harder and is causing problems. There are huge problems with shin splints and several major players have been getting stress fractures lately.

As for “need”, yes I think it is BS. People are hurdling on track and then doing faster stuff and slower stuff on the track as well all year round.

While you might want to do tempo hurdling on track in the winter and speed at the same time, you definitly do need to be careful and get on the grass as much as possible. And as soon as you switch to faster hurdling (replacing the speed work) you need to get on grass ASAP.

There are so many people that do runs on track at 70-80% which could be done safely on grass - even when it is raining - you could always use padded cross country spikes.

Another question is - as the track ages does it get harder? I would assume it looses its elastic properties.

True! As per “Jane Project”…
I try to check as many things as I can every day and that’s how we found a wrong recruiting pattern in hips/thighs (i.e., quads/hamstrings recruited before glutes -no deep/half squats in the past whatsoever but quarter squats instead with huge loads), ITB tightness (i.e., from lack of side-stretches -or any stretching for that matter, dynamic BS all year round) and stiffness on the outside of calves -although this isn’t that bad and getting better with stretching and massage.
Just an example and confirmation of Charlie’s thought in the past that instead of doing your job, you have to sort out other people’s negligence first…
Just some thoughts here…

Tracks usually do get harder with age, especially as beaded surfaces loose their beads, but that isn’t always the case. Much of the complete track system relies on the asphalt underlayment for its resilience and it may harden over years or store water, leaving it softer and deader.

Indeed they do usually get harder with age. Our track has not been resurfaced in well over 10 years. It’s a real killer on the legs… almost like porus asphalt. And I just learned that some girl wrote an article in the school paper saying that the track is good and needs not be addressed! Clearly, she is not a runner…


you may want to try this following site they often have some very usefull and informative articles. from memory sure it even has archives to search through aswell.

best of luck

Wait, is that correct?

On Page 1 kitkat states “Then of course there is the risk of shin-splints due to swapping from soft to hard surfaces. That’s another story.”

Is this true? I’m planning on doing tempo on the grass which is T/Th/Sa and my speed sessions are on harder surfaces (either synthetic track or concrete hill) on M/W/F. Are you telling me that by switching from soft surface to hard surface on alternating days I’m actually causing shin splints to occur rather than preventing them? How does that happen, and are there any ways to remedy this or prevent shin splints before they become a problem?

there may be some adaptation issues but, as a rule, you should do tempo on a grass surface whenever possible. it’s also worth noting that there are issues beyond shin splints. The sudden release characteristics of synthetic track can cause tendon irritation and overuse conditions.

What I posted on page 1:

“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.”

Thanks to all who have posted. I agree with Charlie’s note about release characteristics (sudden for synthetic, slower for grass) and I suppose both of these could refer to affect muscle function and thereby potentially bring on shin splints in those athletes not receiving any rehab or appropriate adaptation. Thanks again to nanny et al for bothering to reply.

This swapping surfaces --> shin splints:

Is this a problem in relation to the usual english “winter training” on grass then move to track in spring or combining track and grass sessions in the same week?

I have seen massive problems this winter with the run up to the Commonwealth Games (March rather than July peak) with athletes switching suddenly to track work earlier than usual while it is still cold. The change in surface leads to massive calf tightness - leading some athletes to have to take an entire week off training!

My thoughts are that keeping some track work from the start of the season to condition the calves would be a good idea during GPP (even if it is just a tempo run once a week) and then progressly increasing the track volume as you move into SPP (2-3 track sessions a week) is perhaps one way to avoid this:


GPP Week 1 - 5 grass, 1 track
GPP Week 2 - 5 grass, 1 track
GPP Week 3 - 5 grass, 1 track
GPP Week 4 - 5 grass, 1 track
GPP Week 5 - 4 grass, 2 track
GPP Week 6 - 4 grass, 2 track
SPP Week 1 - 3 grass, 3 track
SPP Week 2 - 3 grass, 3 track
etc… etc…


It comes down to issues of Adaptation and Rehabilitation which can, in part, be catered for through sensible Program Theory. As you’ve posted here, this program does cater from Week 1 to issues of adaptation.
Then the One session per week on a synthetic track may lead to the notion that on this day the program could also be applied to catering for the needs of speed-development.
And by extension, that can lead you into various interesting programming concepts such as short-to-long (utilizing the indoor venues in the UK) and also concurrent development.

It’s a whole other area of interest but pressures of the time-line in a season where there is a championship much earlier than usual (ie Com Game southern hemisphere) or pressures to avoid injuries or work longer at targeting various performance threads (biomechanics, max velocity, force application)
pushes the coach to become creative in their program model designs.

Tracks seem to have different characteristics that affect shin splints. This year i have an athlete who trains with me during the academic year but at home during the summer. He always complains of shin splints during the season but when he went home to run on a mondo track his shin splints went away! Having returned to our tartan track he now has shin problems again and it has only been 7 weeks. We hardly do any volume on this track - less than 2000m a week of tempo and then only if it is cold outside.

I can’t believe it is purely coincidence.

Out of interest, may I ask what else is done around it that may irritate or prevent it? Thanks!

When i used to have some time off, or others i know had time off, generally anywhere from 2mnths or more off, that upon resuming training, most would get shin splints. And this was generally when speed work comenced on grass, as no synthetic track was available for approx 600klm. Everybody, nearly, suffered from shin pain once speed work started, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
The largest factor i have noticed to prevent shin pain was to strengthen lower legs/feet. Tibia anterior, calf and calf flexability and foot strength. Once these strength issues were sortered, the incidence of shin pain reduced to nothing more than a bit of calf tightness.
Even now that i have axcess to a synthic track, and only do speed on synthic and tempo on grass, no worries about shin pain.
Even when i used to do a lot of distance running, i ran a lot on the bitchmin, even concrete, and rarely had lower leg problems - when i did, it was more due to wearing wrong spikes when doing fast track work (weak lower leg muscles, as above).

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