At the age of 17, Sven Knipphals ran a personal time of 12.39 seconds over 100m in a competition. 12 years later he set a personal best of 10.13 seconds over 100m. In addition to a few medals at the European Championships, he is also 9th in the all-time German sprint leaderboard.
I have been working with Sven in the areas of strength training, nutrition and supplementation since the summer of 2015, and during this time I got to know his very critical and reflective approach to training. And learned a lot about Sprint from him.
After he announced his retirement from active sprinting this summer and we published the "Make yourself faster" book at the same time, the appropriate YPSI Sprint seminar with him took place last weekend in the week of the release of the "Make yourself faster" book . This seminar included a whole handful of other new pearls of knowledge for me. Three of them are:
1. The orientation of the facet joints as a basis for back pain
The facet joints of the spine, also known as vertebral arch joints, serve to articulate the connection between adjacent vertebrae, in addition to the intervertebral disc and the spinal ligaments. Their function is primarily to restrict the vertebrae from sliding forward and rotating them in relation to one another. Depending on the position of the vertebral joints on the spine, different shapes and positions of their joint surfaces limit mobility of the vertebral bodies to different extents. In the thoracic spine (thoracic spine) the facet joints are primarily designed for rotation and in the lumbar spine (lumbar spine) primarily for extension and flexion. However, since the mobility of the thoracic spine is restricted to a certain extent today due to the forward, inward and downward oriented everyday posture of everyone, a natural movement of the thoracic spine is also restricted. Especially during sprints and faster speeds, this limitation of the mobility of the thoracic spine ensures that the segments of the spine above and below, especially the lumbar spine, compensate with rotation. However, since the facet joints of the lumbar spine are primarily designed for extension and flexion, constant compensation in the form of rotation of the lumbar spine quickly leads to back pain. The reason for this in this case is not weakness in the trunk muscles but a lack of mobility in the thoracic spine, which restricts rotation in the thoracic spine and compensates with a rotation of the lumbar spine, which then stimulates it.
2. It can take up to 3 weeks to recover from a single fast sprint
There are hardly any scientific studies on the regeneration of exceptional performance, especially in the field of competitive sports with higher intensity such as explosive power and speed sports. In low-intensity competitive sports such as marathons, it has been documented that recovery from peak performance can take up to 4 weeks based on inflammatory markers. In explosive power and speed sports, there is anecdotal evidence for all of the throwing sports, such as the work of hammer throw coach Anatoly Bondarchuk, suggesting a 14-day recovery from a single elite-level hammer throw. Sven had an interesting report at the seminar from a British sprinter who set a personal record of 9.93 seconds over 100m. In his case, laboratory tests on the testosterone-cortisol ratio were carried out, which show that although the athlete subjectively felt very good, his testosterone-cortisol ratio was out of balance for a full 3 weeks after his personal record. While most sprinters would certainly have put their sprint shoes back on after a few days or a week, the laboratory test showed a significant reduction in performance and regeneration for a full 3 weeks after a single sprint. Here, of course, it must be taken into account that this individual 100m sprint with a time of 9.93 seconds is at elite level. During this time, the nervous system and muscles develop forces that accelerate the body to a good 12 m/s. These extremely high forces must also be absorbed by the muscles and fascia, which exposes the body to massive stress. Its regeneration has been proven to take much longer than many people suspect.
3. "My father already had bad teeth, which means I don't have to brush my teeth at all"
Such a leitmotif is certainly fundamental and very limiting, especially in the context of training. Everyone involved in sports and competitive sports has already encountered this approach. Was like that in the past, doesn't help now either. A leitmotif that is constantly being refuted in practice. If you want to be fast, you have to get lighter – luckily nobody told a 96kg Usain Bolt that. Squats are bad for the knees, I know someone who gets knee pain from squats and strength training is slow anyway - luckily no one told that to the German sprint elite who all squat in the range of twice bodyweight and beyond LH. We have to go to sprint competitions every other week from April to September - that works if you run 10.8s 100m, at top level most sprinters can do with today's times in the 10.0s range, but only once or twice a week Retrieve peak performance year after year. Traditions and myths from the past are relevant in many cases and limit the performance of individual trainers and athletes. Sven's statement "My father already had bad teeth, which means I don't have to brush my teeth at all" is certainly a very funny way of putting this problem into words.
The participants of the seminar were enthusiastic about the insight into the training of fast sprints and the individual facets of sprint technique, training planning and the many short anecdotes from the world of top sprints.
Many thanks to Sven for these three pearls, the seminar, the book and the cooperation!
Picture: Sven Knipphals giving a lecture at the YPSI Sprint Seminar as part of the “Make yourself faster” book release on October 20th at the YPSI in Stuttgart.