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How do sprint spikes work?

Sprint spikes work as a form of traction and grip that are added to the underside of an athlete's sprinting shoes. As the name suggests, they consist of small spikes, the material of which varies from shoe to shoe.

Sprint shoes that utilise spikes usually consist of a rigid plate which houses a large number of points. In most cases, sprinting shoes have the most rigid and highest number of spikes than any training/sports shoe, in order to help provide maximum energy in each stride.

While a sprinter is running, they spend the majority of their time and energy applying pressure on their toes. As such, the fit of a sprint shoe should always be very secure, though only minimal heel support is needed.

The size of each spike in a sprinting shoe varies considerably. While most spikes will measure between 5mm and 6mm, other sprinting spikes have been specially tailored by the wearer to provide maximum performance for their individual needs.

The spikes' material will vary, though most tend to be made from ceramic or metal. Whilst all spikes are a typical pointed shape, the three main variations of this shape are pin, compression tier, or pyramid.

Perhaps the most unique of the three is the compression tier spike (also known as the Christmas tree spike). This form of sprint shoe consists of a flat ended terraced cone shape, thus compressing rather than flatting the surface on which the athlete is running, going the runner added bounce and speed.

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