The use of strength training in sports physical therapy can help athletes to increase power and speed in their upper and lower body structure. However, an additional challenge is recommended for sprint training to achieve competitive gains in acceleration and velocity.
An athlete is at an advantage when he has the ability to reach a greater speed at the start of a sprint run and continue to increase velocity through the end phase of the sprint distance. A resistance sprint training program can be effective in providing the kinematics factors to enable the athlete to exert the specific power required to improve acceleration performance.
Resistance sprint training uses interventions in the form of weighted devices which overload the athlete during his sprint training sessions. This technique has been shown to benefit athletes who wish to increase their initial speed from a stationary starting point in the acceleration phase, and to multiply these gains through the maximum velocity stage at the end of their sprint run.
Sled dragging and x-vests are two forms of resistance which have been shown to help athletes gain significant acceleration in the starting and ending phases of sprinting. A resistance training program using weighted tools like the sled and vest incorporates sports physical therapy training methods which recruit sprinting techniques to maximize the athlete’s acceleration performance and kinematics. To begin with, weighted devices can be used on a trial basis either in isolation or in combination to gauge the efficacy of results achieved.
In order to maximize gains in acceleration, it is important to understand the biomechanics of the musculature which have a beneficial role in altering the kinematic variables that impact sprint performance. When resistance loads via the sled or x-vest are increased to an extent at which the resistance mechanisms are stimulated enough to increase acceleration but without compromising the ideal movement mechanisms of the body, then the athlete has successfully applied resistance sprint training to his exercise program.
How does dragging a sled and wearing an x-vest during sprint training improve form and performance? The resisting force provided by such devices helps to improve acceleration phase in the beginning phase of sprinting as well as in reaching maximum velocity. This was demonstrated in a study which examined the kinematic characteristics of heavy sled pulling and associated kinematic factors which influenced the athlete’s speed in sprint training. (Keogh, Justin W.L. et al, 2009)
The study determined that in sports physical therapy, heavy sled pulling was similar to acceleration phase sprinting and can improve acceleration in sprinting, especially in the final phases of the sprint run. It also found that greater torso incline and incline between the joints of the legs were produced when the speed of the sled pull was increased.
- Keogh, Justin W.L., Newlands, C., Blewett, S., Payne, A., & Chun-Er, L. (2009). A Kinematic Analysis of a Strongman-Type Event: The Heavy Sprint-Style Sled Pull. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 24(x): 000-000. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b62c2f
About the Author: Steve Messineo has a doctorate in physical therapy and owns two businesses in Shrewsbury, MA; All-Access Physical Therapy and the All-Access Fitness Academy. Both businesses were created with the idea that there is a need for people transitioning from physical therapy care to long term health and wellness programs, to get the guidance and instruction they need in order to be successful doing so, and to meet their fitness goals.
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