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A guide to track spikes

What are track spikes?

Stars of track and field wear track spikes on their shoes to improve traction and enhance performance. Made alternatively of metal, plastic or ceramic, the spikes screw into holes on the bottom of lightweight sports (track) shoes to prevent slipping and provide greater grip to the surface on which the athlete is performing. In essence, they help increase the power of the athlete's efforts - helping them to run faster, jump farther or throw harder.

Some track shoes come with spikes fitted, others need to have the spikes attached, usually with a spike wrench. It is important not to either over-tighten or under-tighten the spikes as this can cause damage to the shoe or the spike to come loose when running. Although the heads of track spikes vary in size and shape - and in number depending on the type of shoe - they follow a universal thread design. The thread is the part that screws into the sole of the shoe.

Spikes are used by track runners, field athletes and cross country runners and are available for short, middle and long distances. Different spikes suit different disciplines and advice should always be sought from a professional trainer or coach before using spikes. Although they can and should be used in training (in order to prepare an athlete for racing in spikes) standard running shoes are advisable for long periods of training, as overuse of track spikes can lead to injury.

Track spikes can be purchased at dedicated running stores or online at stores such as sportsshoes.com or startfitness.co.uk

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