Making big strides in sports

Hey Woodski!  
I'm not that tall. Which I'm fine with but are there exercises to lengthen my stride? Hopeful Strider, age 16 (female, track and Nordic skiing)  

Dear Hopeful Strider,

Yes! If your goal is to be faster, then these tips may help.

First, let’s talk about mindset. Mindset is key, because when you focus too much on the results (stride length, winning, etc); you forget that techniques, skills, and flexibility are how you get there. When you work on your techniques, your stride length should naturally improve on its own.  Athletes who over-think their stride, often find themselves over-striding, which can slow them down and lead to injury.

So how do you know if you’re making progress? Ask your running coach to help you assess and improve your “stride rate” (often called cadence). You’ll want to find the best cadence for you. This will vary between runners.

In Nordic skiing, ask your coach to assess your weight transfer and forward leg drive. Then ask for tips to improve both. As your technique gets better you’ll naturally lengthen your stride.

As with running, communicate with your coach before, during and after you make adjustments.

If following your coaches’ directions is not helping, then your hips, hamstrings, or glutes may be over-tight or out of balance. Make an appointment with a Physical Therapist who has experience with athletes, especially skiers and runners. The best athletes have a support team to help them hit their stride, including physical and massage therapists.


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The advice offered in this column is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle choices.
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