SpeedEndurance TV: Can I Run Faster with Risers in Spikes?

Ever wonder what are those little plastic washers that come with your track spikes?

We call them “risers” or “crowns”.

Do they make you run faster?  Do they prevent slippage?

In this episode of SpeedEndurance TV, I give 3 theories, where the 3rd theory is the most likely answer.

I should elaborate a bit more on my 2nd theory, and that is the “grip”.  I like using risers for the 200m as I felt they provided a better feel for the curve.  Often, these risers would break, especially on the outside of the spike.

I eat my spikes, so often I go through a new pair every year. (I have one set for training and one set for racing)  Thus I have no problems having spare risers or crowns.

SpeedEndurance TV with Jimson Lee with track spike risers or crowns 2

When do you use Risers (or crowns)?

Check out this short video on SpeedEndurance TV, and be sure to comment below if you have any questions.

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at SpeedEndurance.com
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • I would agree more with points 1 and 3

    1st is in line with long jump spikes having a “thicker” sole at the ball of the foot to the toes. This is to add a greater length on the pivot and I would say these “risers” can act the same way.

    The 3rd point is also valid in that having the risers you have potential to increase the stretch reflex of the Achilles resulting in greater power and stride length.

    My thoughts

  • I find risers really uncomfortable so I never use them. I love your spikes Jimson. It’s a very old model (1997). Where did you get them.

  • In 1974 Host Dassler ( owner of ADIDAS ) and I came up with the “riser crowns’ for the ADISTAR sprint shoe..I tested all types of crown configurations, Adidas German designers one side of the table French on the other ( the translations in the meeting was something to see.
    Mr Dassler asked me, what I wanted a shoe to do I said “keep me on my toes” so we came up with crowns at the ball of the foot was higher than the toes.Test & test races in competition, Mr Dassler loved that I would wear test shoes in races ! The other shoe request I had , well Adidas tech guys did not want to hear ….I said ,”the best 200m shoe was the 1968 PUMA 68 spike-lettes BRUSH shoe” They all growned (Mr Dassler told me later how he had that shoe banned by the IAAF before Mexico games)…So we places little plastic spike bumps all over the shoe bottom …test shoes had mishap, 1975 Jamaica 100m I had the outside lane ,sand on the track erased the plastic spikes. Later that year in Berlin I ran 9.9 ( World record at the time ) in a rainstorm ,the crowns kept my feet out of the water Mr Dassler was very happy that day he loved the tech side of sprint shoes

    • @Steve – Thanks for the insight! I had a feeling the crowns were “before my time”, as I bought my first pair of spikes in 1982 or 1983, and they had crowns or risers back then. We’ll need to do a Skype or Google hangout call on this one!

  • But with today’s pebax and Tpu spike plates, wouldn’t these proven energy return materials make risers as energy return tools obsolete?

    • @Perryn, yes, good point, that’s why I think risers are more of a “feel”, and must be tested on a one-to-one basis.

  • Some great theories Jimson! I also wondered that myself about the risers. I use to use them back in high school and to me they always felt weird being lifted up..even if it was just a few mm. Great vid!