Butt kicks benefits
Butt kicks are a running drill most often used by runners in preparation for more intensive training or shorter races (5K or 10K) due to its numerous benefits.
1. Improves your running technique
Butt kicks improve your running technique by imitating overemphasized leg swings that follow when you lose ground contact.
Butt kicks also teach you the proper foot position during a run. The foot should be bent towards the shin, in the position of dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion enables the activation of calf muscles. As you hit the ground the calf muscles will contract, allowing you to hit the ground with more force.
2. Increases cadence
Butt kicks are an exercise that teaches you not to overstride and to avoid running over your heels. It helps you develop proper running technique, teaching you to hit the ground right below you. This way you keep the momentum and avoid the slowdown while increasing the cadence (number of steps in a minute).
Research has shown that increasing cadence by 10% reduces the stress on your knees by 5%. This lowers the risk of usual runner injuries, such as hip or knee injuries.
3. Improves neuromuscular effectiveness
Butt kicks improve communication between nerves and muscles by quickening nerve impulses that send signals to muscle fibers. As a result, your muscles will have better coordination in more intensive training or race.
4. Strengthens the hamstrings and the glutes
If you wish to run faster and improve your performance then butt kicks can be an excellent choice due to their strengthening of your hamstrings and glutes muscles. By strengthening those muscles, you will be able to more firmly grab the ground below you and therefore run faster.
5. Strengthens forefoot muscles
Butt kicks teach you to run on the balls of your feet, and as a result develop the strength to push off of the ground with more force. Running on the balls of your feet shortens the time spent in contact with the ground, which then increases your speed.
In 2007 scientists from the Ryukoku University in Japan have set up a high-tech camera on the 15-kilometer-section of the half marathon and used it to record 283 runners. Research has shown that an average midfoot striker spends 183 milliseconds in contact with the ground, while an average heel striker spends 200 milliseconds in contact with the ground. Shorter time of contact results in a faster run and higher running economy.
6. Strengthens core muscles
A solid core is necessary for a proper running technique. If your core is too weak your body will not be able to control your movements. A strong core ensures the force from the swings of your arms is properly transferred to your legs, thus improving your running economy. A better running economy means that you run faster while spending less energy.
7. Reduces the risk of injury
Runners often have problems with injuries caused by not stretching the hip flexors enough. The hip flexors consist of several muscles that allow you to raise your knees up to your chest, as well as bend your upper body forward.
Butt kicks are an exercise that stretches the hip flexors as well as the quadriceps, thus reducing the risk of injury.
8. Helps you lose weight
Butt kicks are often used in other sports as well, not just running. Butt kicks are an intensive exercise that burns a high number of calories. It is often used as a separate exercise in fitness training, with repetitions lasting several minutes.
A person of 155 pounds will lose approximately 6-9 calories after a minute of butt kicks.
9. Improves cardiovascular condition
Butt kicks, like any other running drill, increase the blood flow in your muscles, thus raising muscle temperature. At higher temperatures hemoglobin in erythrocytes releases oxygen more quickly (Bohr effect). This means that you will be able to handle more exertion because your blood and oxygen have an easier time traveling through your organism.
Research has shown that proper warm-up results in a 2-3% increase in body temperature, lasting 45 minutes. The increase in temperature causes useful changes in muscles and tendons:
- Significantly increases muscle elasticity and allows higher-intensity training.
- Muscles and tendons become more flexible that makes stretching muscles and tendons easier and more effective.
- A rise in enzymes and metabolic activity improves the effectiveness of muscle contractions.
10. No equipment required
Butt kicks can be done regardless of your location since you do not require any additional equipment, nor do you have to pay an expensive gym membership.
How to properly perform butt kicks?
- Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart, look straight ahead, and keep your upper body straight.
- Bring your right heel to your buttocks while standing on your left leg.
- As the ball of your right foot hits the ground below your center of mass, bring your left heel to your buttocks.
- Keep going by alternating sides and moving forward.
Your arms should follow your leg movements, as they do when you are running. As you are doing the high knees your foot should be bent towards your shin (dorsiflexion).
Read more: How To Do Butt Kicks? [Video Guide]
To properly perform the exercise, it is important to focus on the contractions of your hamstrings as you raise your heel. Do not focus on pushing off of the ground.
Mind your posture. Keep your body straight but bent slightly forward.