The Toe Drag Advantage in Competitive Running

Toe Drag in Football

Dragging a toe out of the starting block has become a common running technique among elite sprinters:

  • Usain Bolt on the second step
  • Justin Gatlin on the first two steps
  • Asafa Powell on the first two steps
  • Lolo Jones switched from a drag on the third step to the first two steps

Sprinters are normally taught to drive out of the blocks with both legs.  The toe drag technique has been borrowed from swimmers who drive off of one leg and never bring a knee through. By creating enough explosive power with one leg, the other leg remains suspended until needed. 

Runners achieve maximum force with the toe drag. Their glutes contract over a longer period of time and their downward hips create horizontal velocity. Feet stay low to the ground requiring less braking action. Athletes alter their arm swing from a back and forth action to a side to side action; shoulders get involved to create torque.

Elite sprinters have successfully demonstrated that the toe drag is an optimal technique out of the starting block.

Photo Source: The toe drag technique in football training.


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