If you want to improve as a runner and prevent injury, you need to do more than just run. Running drills can be a great way to help you do both. Running drills provide dynamic flexibility, strength training specific to running, and will help to improve your running form. What does this mean? You become a more efficient runner with less risk of injury. As a Physical Therapist I use drills as a way to assess how a runner moves, to see imbalances within movement, and as a way to rehabilitate runners from injury.
Dynamic flexibility is moving joints and muscles to gain active mobility, which helps you to loosen up effectively before running. Drills often take you through a larger range of the motions you would normally do in running. Using bigger range of motion for repetitions warms up your muscles to get ready for running.
Drills work specific muscle groups utilized in running by exaggerating motions used in running. This leads to improved recruitment of these muscles when we need them during running. Drills are often quick and/or powerful movements, which will train muscles to respond quickly when running and may even help to push you quicker to a finish line.
Many of the drills highlight one or more aspect of proper running form and are accentuated through repetitive motions, thus helping you to insert it into your typical running mechanics. A runner needs to have proper form as well as the appropriate strength and flexibility to allow their body to run without risking injury. Each individual has specific areas to work on with strengthening and stretching exercises, but drills take it to the next level.
One example of how a drill can address these 3 areas is High knee skipping. This drill is a dynamic stretch for hip extensors, a strengthening exercise for calf muscles and quadriceps, and it improves your form by having you push off your foot closer to the mid/fore foot instead of striking with your heel. There are similar benefits to the majority of running drills.
To learn more about drills come to our Free Drills session on Saturday May 18th at 8:30 am at the dirt track off the Kim Williams trail. We will demonstrate correct form with drills, explain their purpose and have you go through some beneficial drills that will improve your running. The first 25 people to arrive will also get a free stainless steel water bottle. If you have any questions please call our North Clinic at (406)541-2606.
by Kristi Moore, MSPT
Alpine Physical Therapy North