Sprints and Splits



I am a sprinter, and I know that stretching can be detrimental to running speed, but I would still like to learn to do splits. Is there a way of learning splits that would not be detrimental to my sprinting, or even improve it?


If, to increase flexibility, one does only the type of stretches that reduce the stiffness of muscles and tendons and thus decrease the reuse of elastic energy, then such flexibility training may be detrimental to running. I explain in the book Stretching Scientifically (see pages 8, 106, and 107) what exercises to do to increase flexibility without a detrimental lowering of the stiffness of muscle-tendon units.

With the correct selection of exercises, you can have both great flexibility and great stiffness of muscles and tendons to take full advantage of elastic energy (you need it for explosive power). You can see an excellent example here:

Video of Waldemar Baszanowski performing a split-style clean and jerk—an example of great flexibility with great explosive power

My familiarity with the training of Olympic weightlifters is the reason I based Flexibility Express on their exercises, which simultaneously increase flexibility, strength, and explosive power. (I made the exercises easy and put them in a sequence aimed mainly at increasing both flexibility and raw strength, rather than the technique and explosive power that weightlifters train for.)

Knowing all that, you should have no trouble selecting the exercises that will give you the flexibility you want, without slowing you down, perhaps even making you faster. Add the exercises of Flexibility Express to your training program and then observe yourself. Pay attention to your times and how your running feels. If your sprinting does not take more effort and your ground contact is not getting longer as your flexibility increases, then you are doing okay.

Flexibility Express DVD

Stretching Scientifically

The Unbreakable® Umbrella — A peculiar mix of genteel elegance and chilling weaponry...

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