5 Running Drills for Better Form, Balance and Dexterity.
As an athletic trainer and pre-med student in college, I found through doing an hour’s worth of research on running, biking and some common sports injuries which injuries are most common to the athletically- favored, and more importantly, how to really help to prevent those injuries. Most of prevention relies on form drills, massaging the parts of your body that hurt after workouts, and icing/ ice-bathing to reduce inflammation. Having had several running-related injuries myself in college, I also know that stretching everyday and recovery are also very important. Not only are they important for getting back on the road to some quality training, but also for building that psychological base of self-esteem after the loss from an injury. Here are 8 of the most crucial form drills for your weekly routine.
What it helps: This will flex your quads, but it will also dynamically stretch your hanstrings and glutes. Also helps add fast-twitch muscle.
What it helps: Builds-up the calves and hamstrings, stretches the quads near their insertions in the knee.
What it will help: The karaoke will stretch and strengthen mainly your hip flexors, but also your glutes and the muscles in your back, giving you some added stability to your run. Drills like these really start to kick-in when you’ve done then consistently. You’ll feel less bogged down on long runs and at the end of workouts, and find you have a little more endurance that really helps in conjunction with a little speed-work and tempo runs.
What it will help: doing short half-sprint stretches of 50 meters will work out your hamstrings, giving them extra power. 90% of muscle build-up in the legs from running goes to the quads, so backing-up the hammys will give you extra speed and power.
Backward Lunges w/ twist
What it will help: backward lunges will do the same thing for your form as forward lunges, but in the opposite way. It will load your muscles with the same amount of weight (your body weight), but will put the tension more on the ends of those leg muscles, rather than the body of them, again, giving you more power.
What it will help: squatting under hurdles is one of the best ways to add mass to your hammys. It also hurts a lot more than other drills, but you do them anyway. Just don’t overdo it. Sets of 6-10 at a time is plenty for beginners. Builds-up hamstrings and hip flexors.
What they help: strides for 50-100 meters, focusing on fast leg turnover, and not long, hard strides (as when sprinting) help build your speed and stamina while sprinting. Usually start one every minute for 4-6 times and do a standing rest is the best way to do them. Doing them once or twice a week after an easy run is great, as is after a workout, when your form is very pliable will teach your body to run hard and efficiently while tired.
Don’t forget to lean backward against a wall and do a few calf raises after your drills 2-3 times a week with your shoes off. This will prevent shin splints. I used to always to these all year long, and since I have started these, I have never had shin splints again.
Bonus: Hamstring curl w/ exercise ball
What it helps: this simple exercise will flex your hamstrings, and will stretch the muscles that insert all around your knees. That helps the quads, hammys, calves, and your IT bands.. Although, many a runner must take a roller on their IT bands and hammys after this exercise, it is worth every rep.
After implementing these into your weekly schedule for a few weeks, you will notice your body is all-around stronger, more flexible, and you can switch gears faster and more efficiently- requiring less effort. It will really make a world of difference when it comes to competing, and everyday running.