Biomechanics of sprint running. A review

Sports Med. 1992 Jun;13(6):376-92. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199213060-00002.


Understanding of biomechanical factors in sprint running is useful because of their critical value to performance. Some variables measured in distance running are also important in sprint running. Significant factors include: reaction time, technique, electromyographic (EMG) activity, force production, neural factors and muscle structure. Although various methodologies have been used, results are clear and conclusions can be made. The reaction time of good athletes is short, but it does not correlate with performance levels. Sprint technique has been well analysed during acceleration, constant velocity and deceleration of the velocity curve. At the beginning of the sprint run, it is important to produce great force/power and generate high velocity in the block and acceleration phases. During the constant-speed phase, the events immediately before and during the braking phase are important in increasing explosive force/power and efficiency of movement in the propulsion phase. There are no research results available regarding force production in the sprint-deceleration phase. The EMG activity pattern of the main sprint muscles is described in the literature, but there is a need for research with highly skilled sprinters to better understand the simultaneous operation of many muscles. Skeletal muscle fibre characteristics are related to the selection of talent and the training-induced effects in sprint running. Efficient sprint running requires an optimal combination between the examined biomechanical variables and external factors such as footwear, ground and air resistance. Further research work is needed especially in the area of nervous system, muscles and force and power production during sprint running. Combining these with the measurements of sprinting economy and efficiency more knowledge can be achieved in the near future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neural Conduction
  • Running*