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Chalk Talk: It’s Just a Mad Dash!

Now that we have gone through my top five dynamic stretches, I figured it was time to put all the stretching to good use.

We recently had a football mini-camp for my team. Some of the drills we did are the ones they perform at the NFL Combine. The drills we did included the shuttle run, broad jump, and the 40-yard dash. What I am going to write about today is what the 40-yard dash measures.

Related: To be a Dynamic Football Player, Stretch Like One

What does the 40-yard dash measure?

The 40-yard dash is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to testing football players abilities.  This distance allows the player to reach their maximum speed. In theory, the shorter amount of time, the better the athlete.

Related: Keep Your Athlete Injury Free

What was my 40-yard dash time?

I wish I could use the excuse that my short legs (I am 5’ 2”) where the reason my 40 time was less than what I expected it to be, but unfortunately, I can’t. My 40 time was 6.2 seconds. Upon my investigation, I found the average time for someone around my age (I am 24), is about 5.8 seconds. Now if you take 6.2 seconds and subtract 5.8 seconds you get .4 seconds. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but it can be the amount of time between getting a touchdown, or getting tackled just short of a touchdown.

What am I going to do to improve my 40-yard dash? Work on my hips!

  1. Improve my hip extension, which is the backwards movement of my thigh. This motion tends to be missing in most people.
  2. Improve my strength. The muscle responsible for extending the hip is called the gluteus maximus. Weakness in this muscle can make you a slower runner.
  3. Practice!
Related: 10 Minute Routine Every Athlete Should Do

What stretches improve hip extension?

  • Hip Flexor Stretch. This stretch focuses on the deep muscles of the hip. They are typically tight in most people, because of how much sitting we do.

  • Quadriceps Stretch. This stretch focuses on the front of the thigh.  This muscles also tends to be tight in people who do a lot of sitting.

What exercises improve gluteus maximus strength?

  • Bridge. This exercise works on turning the bottom muscles on together. It allows the gluteus maximus to turn on will extending the hip.

  • Bridges with March. This exercise is the next step up from the bridge.  It turns on one gluteus maximus at the time, meaning it is much more challenging than a regular bridge.

  • Single leg Bridge. This exercise is the step up from the bridge with march.

Practice makes perfect!

Stretching and getting stronger only gets you so far, but you must practice!  The combination of stretching, strengthening, and practicing running the 40-yard dash should improve my 40 time.  My goal for the next mini-camp is to be under 6.0 seconds.  I will let you know if I hit my goal!

Down, Set, Fun Fact: Helmets were not mandatory for football players until 1939.

By Haylee Graves, PT, DPT

Back in Motion® Physical Therapy – Portland, Maine

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