One of the technique cues that runners sometimes struggle to master at first when changing their technique is the “Heel Pull”.
Jeff Grant of Hillseeker Fitness has shared a great drill for mastering the “Heel Pull” in the short video below.
WHY MASTER THE MOVEMENT?
Successfully learning to pick the foot up under the hip engages the Hamstrings during early-to-mid swing phase, and offloads the work of the Hip Flexors to pull the swing leg through under the body, on to the next stride.
A common flaw in many runners is to run with a Hip Flexor dominant (knee drive orientated) swing phase. In particular resulting in overactivity in the Hip Flexors (specifically Rectus Femoris), tightness in the ITB (sometimes) and altered pelvic posture (almost always).
Learning to use the Hamstrings to contribute more in the swing phase, by picking (or “Pulling”) the heel up under the body, rather than overly relying on the Hip Flexors, creates a more balanced and efficient distribution of the effort around the hip and knee, especially given the strong and powerful nature of the Hamstrings as a muscle group – they are positioned and aligned to be powerful, prime movers.
A signature feature of POSE Technique is the specific focus on getting the Hamstrings working in this way. However we find that many athletes over-do this cue, with counterproductive results, as they start flicking their legs back in an effort to force the movement.
This drill will help to keep the heel pull movement under the body as desired, rather than becoming more of a flick.
IN RELATION TO PROPER RUNNING FORM
When we speak about proper running form, we look to encourage muscle balance around the hips and pelvis in particular, combined with good posture, staying “long” rather than “sitting back”. Getting the Hamstrings engaging during the swing phase helps to achieve these two goals specifically by sharing the effort with the Hip Flexors, and keeping the whole leg motion neatly under the body (rather than over striding.
We are not POSE Technique coaches.
** Proper running technique is not “one size fits all” **
As always, I encourage your comments, experiences, and questions about cadence and technique in the comments section. See what’s up next week for our #RunFormFriday tip! For more in depth understanding on how to put this into practise, get in touch and we’ll see how we can help!