Pole vaulting is a highly technical and physically demanding sport that requires explosive power, speed, and coordination. One of the biggest challenges that pole vaulters face is the build-up of lactic acid, a byproduct of anaerobic energy production that can lead to muscle fatigue and reduced performance. In this article, we will discuss strategies and techniques for overcoming lactic acid build-up in pole vaulting.
First, it is important to understand what causes lactic acid build-up in the first place. When the body is performing high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting down the runway or launching off the pole, it relies on anaerobic energy production to provide the necessary fuel. Anaerobic energy production is the process by which the body breaks down stored glycogen into glucose, which is then converted into ATP, the energy currency of the body.
However, this process produces lactic acid as a byproduct, which can accumulate in the muscles and lead to a burning sensation, fatigue, and reduced performance. The key to overcoming lactic acid build-up in pole vaulting is to minimize the production of lactic acid and improve the body’s ability to remove it from the muscles.
One of the most effective ways to reduce lactic acid build-up is to improve the athlete’s aerobic fitness. Aerobic fitness refers to the body’s ability to produce energy using oxygen, which is a more efficient process than anaerobic energy production. By improving aerobic fitness, the body can rely more on aerobic energy production during pole vaulting, which produces less lactic acid.
To improve aerobic fitness, pole vaulters should include regular cardiovascular exercise in their training program, such as running, cycling, or swimming. These activities can help improve lung capacity, oxygen uptake, and circulation, all of which can enhance aerobic fitness.
Another effective strategy for reducing lactic acid build-up is to optimize the athlete’s technique. Proper technique can help the athlete use less energy during the vault, which can reduce the amount of lactic acid produced. For example, a vaulter who runs too fast down the runway or takes too many vaults can waste valuable energy that could be used during the actual vault.
To optimize technique, pole vaulters should work with a coach to refine their form and identify areas where they can improve efficiency. This may involve practicing drills to improve footwork, speed, and coordination, or making adjustments to the approach or takeoff.
In addition to these strategies, there are several techniques that pole vaulters can use to improve their ability to remove lactic acid from the muscles. One of the most effective is active recovery, which involves performing light exercise after a high-intensity effort to help flush lactic acid from the muscles.
For example, after completing a vault, the athlete could perform a few minutes of easy jogging or cycling to help promote blood flow and remove lactic acid. Other techniques that may be effective include stretching, massage, or the use of compression garments.
In summary, lactic acid build-up is a common problem for pole vaulters that can reduce performance and increase the risk of injury. To overcome this challenge, athletes should focus on improving their aerobic fitness, optimizing their technique, and using techniques to promote lactic acid removal. By incorporating these strategies and techniques into their training program, pole vaulters can improve their performance and reach new heights in the sport.
The following article will explore the characteristics and techniques that can help pole vaulters reduce the amount of lactic acid build-up in their muscles.
Article by Coach Doug Bouma – Vaulter Club and Editor at Vaulter Magazine