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Does leg alignment affect sprint ability?

November 2, 2020

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Question from Julian

   Does the q angle affect how fast I can sprint the 100m, 200m and 400m races? Because I read countless numbers of articles on how having a greater q angle is detrimental to sprinting because the body will spend more energy going forward because wide hips constantly make the legs go sideways instead of forward, also I have bowed legs and want to make them straighter, so does sprinting cause bowed legs? I heard on some research article that bowed legs are like springs, so they are better for sprinters than straight legs. I would like your take of these issues that I have, thank you. 

REPLY - Coach Janet

There are a lot of things that go into an athlete’s success at any given distance. With sprint, there is certainly evidence that genetics and biomechanics play into it, but I think that the more important factors are proper training and learning race strategy. 

You can build hip strength and work on form with a good sprint coach – and this will overcome a great deal of the lateral forces you are worried with.  Strength and power are crucial for sprinters, there is no doubt about that.  If you’re not already working with a good sprint coach who is well versed in Olympic style lifting and power building exercises you should consider checking into that.  Any progressions you do in that area will need to be systematic and done with a strong focus on proper form if indeed your  leg alignment is a little less than ideal.

I do not think that the research on this is all that compelling, and I’d certainly tell you that if you like the sprint distances, go for it! You’ll do yourself a big favor to focus on the things you can control (strength, power, form, fitness, strategy) rather than the things you can’t control (leg alignment).

Good luck!

Coach Janet Hamilton, MA, RCEP, CSCS, USATF-level 1, RRCA-certified coach