Dynamic flexibility drills

Please read the disclaimer.

The drills we did on 26 September 2011 are shamelessly lifted from the American coach Dave McGovern’s book “The Complete Guide To Racewalking Training and Technique” (World Class Publications, $17.95) and his website http://www.racewalking.org.

Below please find :

1. Dave’s explanation of the value of dynamic flexibility drills :

Chapter 22: Dynamic Flexibility Drills
Although the stretching exercises described in chapter 21 are very important for increasing static flexibility, they’re only part of the story. These static exercises can certainly help to develop long—term gains in flexibility, but they give better results when used after training. Since  racewalking is a dynamic activity, static stretches done before workouts are of limited value in preparing the body to racewalk. You need to do dynamic flexibility drills before training to fully prepare your body to walk—for the sake of your technique, and to prevent injuries.
Have you ever seen an Olympic gymnast running up to the vault? They’re among the most flexible athletes on the planet, yet most gymnasts run extremely awkwardly. Too much static flexibility can actually be detrimental to a racewalker because you wind up having to contract the muscles to artificially limit their range of motion. For example, you have to force a contraction to get the heel down quickly  instead of allowing the natural elasticity of the hamstring muscles to do it for you.
Gains in static flexibility increase the range of motion of resting muscles and may help prevent injuries, but racewalkers must also do dynamic flexibility drills to increase flexibility throughout the dynamic range of the racewalking motion. Dynamic flexibility drills can also be used as technique drills to help develop racewalking-specific neuromuscular coordination.
Specific Drills
The following drills should be used as part of your daily warm-up routine—especially on speed work and competition days. Always start slowly. Work up from a few repetitions at first to 15-20 repetitions, and gradually increase the range of motion from one repetition to the next until full extension is reached over the last few repeats. Always maintain good posture when doing drills, and don’t overdo it; work the muscles through a sufficient range of motion to allow a good stretch, but don’t work to the point of pain — drills are part of your warm-up, not a competitive activity.

2. The link to a page of Dave’s website where he shows most of the drills :


3. Two more drills, which appear in the book (written in 1998) but not on the website (written in 1997)

3a. Rock & Roll

Stand sideways so the wall. Balance on your heels with one foot about 24” in front of the other. Throw your pelvis forward, rolling up onto the toes of both feet. Rock back onto your heels, then repeat, rocking back and forth 12-15 times. Put your other foot forward, then rock and roll again about 12-15 more times.

3b. Figure Eights. Walk quickly, with very short strides in a tight figure-8 pattern. The figure-8 drill helps to develop quick turnover, a feel for landing along the outside part of the sole of the foot, and teaches you tight-turning ability for those single-cone turn-around courses.


4. Also from the book, a view from Eastern Europe on the value of dynamic flexibility drills :

Andrzej Chylinski on:
Technique and Flexibility Drills
Accomplishments: 1996 Olympian at 50 kilometers. 1993, ‘95, and ‘97 World Cup Team member. 1992, ‘94 and ‘96 Pan Am Cup Team member.
Personal Records:
5,000 meters: 19:50
10,000 meters: 41:50
20,000 meters: 1:26:23
50,000 meters: 3:58:39
Background: Andrzej was born in New York City in 1960, but moved to Warsaw, Poland at the age of two. Holding a U.S. passport, and wanting to make the 1991 U.S. World Cup Team, Andrzej flew from Poland to the trial race in San Jose, California, arriving only hours before the competition. He finished 8th, but was 4th at the National 20km two months later in New York City—his “hometown.” Andrzej settled in Colorado Springs, Colorado, leaving behind his job as a journalist in Warsaw, for work as a dishwasher at the U.S. Olympic Training Center—a sacrifice, he says, but a necessary one that afforded him the training time he needed to reach his ultimate goal: A spot on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team.
Before long, Andrzej rose to the upper echelon of the U.S. walking ranks. He made several U.S. international teams, but failed to make the Olympic Team in 1992. Undaunted, he continued on, finally fulfilling his dream by wallcing 3:58:39 for 50km to earn a spot on the 1996 team.
Learning to racewalk in eastern Europe, Andrzej had the importance of dynamic flexibility exercises “drilled” into him from his earliest days as a racewalker. As long as I’ve known him, he has done an extraordinary variety of drills before every workout or competition.
Andrzej says: “I believe that dynamic flexibility drills are one of the most important things a racewalker can do to improve his abilities. I do some static stretching now, as well, but before moving to the U.S. in 1991 had never even heard of these “sitting” stretches.

“Before every workout in Poland we always jogged one or two kilometers, then racewalked slowly doing a number of upper-body flexibility drills while walking, followed by about 10 minutes of racewalking-specific drills. I still follow the same 30-minute routine before every workout or competition.
Carl Schueler introduced me to static stretching when I moved to
Colorado. I do about 10-15 minutes of these stretches after the workout for injury prevention, but I never stretch cold muscles before training.
“I race 50kms frequently [Andrzej walked eleven 50s between February, 1995 and April, 1997] and I’m not so young anymore, so flexibility drills are even more important for me now. But I believe that every walker of any age or ability level should do these exercises every day.”

Did you read the disclaimer ?


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