Running is a sport of repetition, meaning that one little change can make a huge difference over time. If you’re looking for an area to improve, most runners’ strides could use a little help, and hurdle drills are a great way to accomplish this.
While there are many different stride patterns that can cause issues, one of the most common injury-inducers is over-striding. Marathon runner, chiropractor and running coach Brittany Moran says that hurdle drills can help improve foot speed and lessen the tendency to over-stride. “When you over-stride, it’s like you’re putting on the brakes mid-run. The problem isn’t that you’re heel striking, the problem is that you’re landing with your foot ahead of yourself, which means you’re slowing yourself down.” She continues, “You want to land underneath yourself, as opposed to in front of your body.”
If you suspect you’re over-striding and are looking to make a change, there’s a simple drill that can make a world of difference. Running over a couple of hurdles can change how you move, which can have a positive effect on your stride. “Hurdles can be a great addition to training, from a mobility standpoint. Small hurdles get people to pick their feet up and land under themselves. After the drill is over, even without the hurdles, runners will continue to move better. This drill can help change your motor pattern.”
The hurdles usually used for this drill are also called wickets. They’re small, roughly six inches in height, and are easily knocked over. Experiment with spacing until you find what feels right for you, but you should aim to land directly beneath yourself when running the drill. Use the above video as a reference, but don’t worry, you don’t need to run as quickly as those sprinters (the video is just a reference for ideal form.)
Give yourself a few metres to accelerate and decelerate, treating the run like a stride or acceleration. An added bonus? Running hurdles is a great way to improve speed, so if you’re looking to get a little faster try working this drill into your routine.