How to successfully manage muscle tightness for Sprinting
ATHLETE CHARLIE FRANCIS ENDED HIS CAREER EARLY DUE TO CONSTANT INJURIES BECAUSE OF TIGHTNESS. FRANCIS IS WEARING #412
A certain amount of muscle tightness for sprinters or any athlete is normal. Hamstring tightness for sprinting left unchecked over time will lead to hamstring pulls and other injuries that are time consuming to recover from and prevent you from making the most of your goals. Understanding the difference between normal tightness and having chronic tightness in one area of your body is the first step to managing tightness. Managing muscle tightness for sprinting will help you train safely, avoid injuries and make the most of your training efforts at practice as well as in competition. Let’s look at the ways we can avoid muscle tightness for sprinting and avoid issues that might become chronic and prevent us from success regardless of our sport.
ACHIEVING THE RIGHT BALANCE OF WORK AND REST IN TRAINING
It is not easy to know exactly what combination of work and rest is needed to avoid or manage muscle tightness for speed training. A certain amount of muscle tightness is normal but chronically tight hamstrings or any amount of tightness routinely occurring is not considered optimal. Making sure you have a training program that has a sound methodology from a coach you trust is a good start. Gaining more knowledge about training from both coaches and athletes who have achieved success will help you navigate how to train effectively and safely.
Two books I often recommend for athletes, coaches and parents are Speed Trap and The Charlie Francis Training Manual. Both books are enjoyable, easy reads with a wealth of information based on world-class results in sprinting.
ROUTINELY AND ACTIVELY RECOVERING WORKED MUSCLES
Actively regenerate your worked muscles with massage, water therapy, acupuncture and EMS as often as possible. Training fresh muscles will bring you rewarding results. If you are routinely training overused and over worked muscles you may not be enjoying the results you expect. Not regenerating enough or routinely may be the reason why your results in training and competition are disappointing. Practice active regeneration every day. Find ways to administer active regeneration on your own as well as combining therapy from a trained therapist you trust.
To understand the role recovery plays in training take a look at Super compensation and Recovery here.
SHIFTING YOUR NUTRITION TO LOW INFLAMMATION DIET
It’s not uncommon for athletes including sprinters to disregard eating nutrient rich balanced diets. The high volume of calories burned in training for many athletes makes the idea of measuring foods for their performance qualities a lower priority without an understanding much about consequences. Foods that create inflammation in the body might differ for each individual. A simple list of inflammatory foods includes alcohol, sugary foods like cake, candies and hard to digest meats such as red meats and pork. Refined, processed foods are also high in inflammatory properties. This is not to say you should not eat these foods but limiting your daily consumption will help you improve your nutrition and maximize your training opportunities.
ADD WATER INTO YOUR LIFE
Drink it , soak in it, swim in it and train in it. Water has healing, cleansing and regenerating properties and when it comes to muscle tightness using water in any way or all ways possible will be helpful. Insure you drink enough water each day by setting up the amount of water you need in your kitchen or take it with you water bottles. Soaking in Epson salt baths loosens tight muscles and helps reset the nervous system and is easy for almost anyone to perform at home.
KEEP YOUR MUSCLES WARM AND DRY
Prevention of muscle tightness begins with keeping your muscles warm and dry as much as possible. Wearing layers of clothes allows you with the option to remove clothing once your training progresses. Depending on your climate the idea of protecting your muscles from extreme hot or cold applies.
PRACTICE ROUTINE WARM-UP WITH LITTLE VARIATION FROM DAY TO DAY
Warming up should be the most routine thing you do in your training with subtle adjustments to add or take away parts depending on the intensity of the training on any given day. Warm ups need to be progressive, somewhat continuous and gradually elevating the intensity as time moves forward. Warm ups should be intentional and very low in intensity.
These are a few key ways you will be able to better manage muscle tightness for sprinting.
No matter what your athletic goals,learn the 10 Best things to know for your best competition day ever.
- Allow more than enough time to get to the track and warm up. The time you need to set aside includes the time it takes you to get to the location of the meet, the size of the meet and level of the competition. Always plan to add at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes on top of your warm up just in case. The younger the athlete the more moderate the time needed but you still want to set yourself or your athlete up to succeed. Hope for the best but plan for the unexpected.
- Nothing special. Two words you need to learn, repeat and practice. Competition day is about repeating what you have already been practicing. Don’t make changes, forget about well meaning onlookers, put your blinders on and make the most of what you have already been doing in practice.
- The smaller the meet the more likely it may not run on time. This is not always the case but depending on the time of your event, begin to track the schedule of the track meet as soon as you are able so you can plan when your warm up begins.
- Don’t make changes or decisions about anything on competition day. Your job at the competition is to see how you are able to perform based on where you are at for this moment. Make an analysis after the competition or a few days after and preferably with your coach. After you have done this you can plan to decide if any change is needed.
- The most important night to have a proper sleep is the day before the night before your competition. It’s expected that your nerves might make sleeping tough but resting up the night before that ensures you don’t go into the competition without sleep.
- Preparing yourself as an athlete to be independent and self-reliant will empower you and train you to be responsible for yourself in case your coach is not able to be around during the competition. Routinely support from a coach or parent is great if you have it but some meets don’t allow it and sometimes it’s not always possible. It’s best to have a plan for competitions that includes the coach not being around.
- Don’t listen to anyone except your coach. If you are at a track meet and people are offering advice let them know to speak with your coach. If you are a coach it’s your job to teach your athlete to avoid listening to others or train them to direct questions away from them especially during a competition. People may mean well but competition is not the time to make changes or have discussions that might distract you from your event.
- Dress properly. Keep your equipment with you at all times. Layers provide the best warmth for your muscles. Plan for change of weather and pack everything you need but as pack as lightly as possible. If you need to travel for the competition take key things for your event on carry on.
- Take notes. Reflection of your process in training and in competition can be a powerful tool for improvement. It’s also a great to look back on how you progressed and compare your times and have a record of your accomplishments.
- Nerves contribute to performance and are a necessary bi product of preparing to compete. Routines, habits and replication of what you do in practice help you prioritize your energy for performance.
Set yourself up to succeed, have fun while doing it and Get out there and follow the 10 best things to know for the best Competition you can have.
Practicing sprinting requires a thorough warm up with drills, which mock the actions of the sprint technique, before practice and routine active regeneration after practice. Your warm up and your regeneration are to insure you show up to sprint in your best form possible each and every time. Practicing makes permanent and to improve your speed you must run fast once and over time develop your ability to repeat high quality sprints.
A soccer player has recently posted on our forums that he wishes to get faster. From what ale1231 has shared with us thus far he is already fast and strong which are two excellent attributes for speed improvement.
An area of speed development often overlooked by athletes and coaches is the role daily active recovery plays in training. Currently, Ale1231 does not practice routine, active regeneration.
The following is an excerpt from an ongoing post by ale1231. I have made some comments and asked some questions to him about his current understanding about sprinting and central nervous system fatigue. (CNS fatigue). For anyone hoping to make more of their speed, it will be helpful to understand what CNS fatigue is about. You can take a look at the entire thread here.
I have no idea of how someone feels when their cns is fried. That is a good question. How could i recognize when I'm doing too much?
It’s not surprising that you are not familiar with what it feels like “to be fried” or “feel fried”.
Learning about CNS fatigue will enable you to manage your energy and ultimately your performance
How do you feel today?
How did you feel before training?
How did you feel after?
Ask yourself these questions daily and log them in your training diary.
Do you have a memory of what you have felt like from training and performance that was at your best?
Completing training due to exhaustion needs to be avoided at all costs.
Reviewing training and performance provides a window into how you will be able to manage your energy.
Logging daily training provides a record of variables to be adjusted up or down to maximize results and prevent training to exhaustion.
As an athlete I timed all aspects of my training to learn the correlation of what I was doing and how it felt at any given moment.
For example: For the 7 to 8 years I trained seriously, My warm up was routinely just under 60 minutes.@ 10 minutes I completed jogging, after that I did a series of skipping and other easy exercises @ 18 minutes I was ready to perform Power Speed drills and after drills were completed I did strides and was then ready to put my spikes on.
The “old school mentality” of sport has been:
Work for the sake of work.
Push through it no matter what.
No pain, no gain.
More is better, because you can.
The guidelines I practiced to make routine improvements over an 8 year period were”
LESS Is More.
Something is better than nothing.
Stop while you are ahead.
Pain is an indicator that something is not good and almost 100 percent of the time you will be further ahead to end training at that moment.
Popular training stories in the media rarely discuss the subtleties of how to achieve consistent performance for speed development.
Heart rate monitors can be used to monitor % of total effort.\
A timing device or an app gives you feedback on times for runs
Symptoms to be addressed, which may indicate CNS or overtraining, are lack of appetite, inability of sleep or to focus, consistent bad moods or lack of desire to train.
The idea I am trying to get you think about is how you feel and then what you need to do about how you feel as a result of that information.
Feeling horrible at the beginning of a warm up is not abnormal. Feeling horrible after 20 or 30 minutes of training is usually never good. I used to tell people that if I was not feeling great at the beginning of my warm up, 99% of the time I felt ready to train hard after 20 to 30 minutes of a progressively low intensity warm up. Unless I was sick or there was something wrong, training went smoothly 99% of the time or I took time off.
My guess is your talents and instincts up to this point have brought you far. For further improvement learning to understand how you are feeling and what those feelings mean will help you to unlock potential you never thought you had.
For the sprint work my goal is to do 2 sets of 3 60m runs. I will use an app which very is reliable. I don't have a track near my area for now but i do have access to a field which i have already measured intervals of 10m.
So basically i'll be recording every day i go and write down my times. My idea for sprint work would be the following:
Wendesday 2x3 fly 20m
Let’s use your current goal of training to further understand CNS fatigue.
Routine volumes of runs mean nothing without data. Have a written plan on paper, adjust it according to your data (in your case a timed result of each rep)
Ending your training exhausted is not desirable. End on a strong note while you are ahead opposed to ignoring signs, which likely indicate fatigue, which leads to repetition of poor quality.
It takes knowledge and skill to walk away from training when the results don’t match the goals you put on paper.
Maybe you are able to perform exactly what you set out to do but over time it’s unlikely that this will be your pattern. More likely is you are making ongoing adjustments as quality of speed improves.
Never forget that injuries are time expensive, disruptive and possibly create ongoing issues which detract from consistency. For these reasons avoid all mistakes that lead to injuries. Plan for habits that prevent the circumstances of getting an injury.
Regarding regeneration... I never looked into specifics. Just began writing down the calories. Making sure i get enough protein and carbs. Weighting what i eat to make sure i eat 2000 calories. So far i've dropped 2 kilos. After speed days i have low intensity days in the form of soccer practice. And if we do have to sprint at practice, i'll go at 80% max and for low distances
“An athlete who is receiving regular regeneration methods and treatments is able to increase the volume of high intensity work by as much as 40%” Chapter 5 Recovery and Regeneration The Charlie Francis Training System
What I might just do now is look more intro contrast shower and other regeneration methods. Makes a lot of sense to get our bodies 100% for maximum effort.
Edit: I don't squat anymore. I feel there are other exercises more relevant to sprinting such as stiff legged deadlifts and romanian deadlifts. I won't be lifting much just to maintain my current strength and maybe build it up a little.
My emphasis is on developing that speed by sprinting. Improve my mechanics and my rate of force development from sprinting itself.
Learn here to successfully integrate a weight lifting program based on world records set by sprinters which include Olympic Gold medalist Ben Johnson in the men's 100 meters 1988 Seoul, Korea and Mark McKoy men's 110 meter hurdles 1992 Atlanta, Georgia.
Learn what it feels like to train when you are 100 percent.
As a general rule, an unwillingness to train can be a strong indicator of fatigue.
Doing some kind of Active Regeneration might be chosen in place of a training session on days you don’t want or feel like training. The hope is to return to training the next day feeling your best.
Always be prepared to adjust training to ensure you are at your best.
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