Whether you’re a seasoned runner and love getting outdoors. Or because you’ve somehow landed yourself in a race with the rest of the guys in office. Whatever the reason, making sure you’re getting the right training is essential in order to cross the finish line.
This blog takes a look at my top mobility exercise to help you stay loose and mobile as your body takes on the demands of running. Making sure your joints have good range of motion, improve your running technique and keeping your muscles loose will help reduce the soreness post run. All of this allows you to keep on top of your training and hopefully stay injury free.
I want to start by talking about the foam roller. You may have seen these in the corner of your gym. You may even have one at home. Using a roller can help smooth out and release tension within the muscle. However, using the roller in isolation isn’t going to improve your running mobility.
The roller can help lengthen the muscle and allow more blood flow to the area, giving you a little bit more motion, or make your motion feel a little smoother. While this new range of motion is beneficial, it will mean nothing unless you can develop strength within this new range.
My advice is to use the roller to help keep the body generally loose and hit a few specific areas (see videos below). But to combine this with some more targeted stretches and mobilisation drills. This is what I call the melt and mould approach. Using the roller to ‘melt’ down some of the tighter or more restricted areas, to then ‘mould’ in new movement patterns with the functional stretches and exercises.
A quick side note on a common injury for runners. IT band syndrome or ‘runners knee’. Many people will try to use a roller on the IT band thinking it will help. However, this will not only hurt, but also waste your time. The IT band is like a zip, connecting tissue together. The tightness comes from up the chain in your glutes. So, save your time and focus on the source of pain, not the symptom!
Hip flexor stretch with overhead reach
Your hip flexors take a beating in running, constantly working to bring the leg back into flexion for the next step. ensuring that these are mobile and strong are key to helping you run faster. Adding the overhead reach is going to help with your thoracic extension (opening your chest), allowing better air flow while running. The overhead reach will also load up your calf more on the front leg. The calf takes a lot of force while running, so giving it some extra conditioning to get used to this load is going to help.
Elevated hamstring stretch
As I said, the roller or massage balls is going to help relieve any tension. But increasing our strength in new ranges is the key to better mobility. Using this stretch for your hamstrings allows you to work to a range that you are able to control and condition your body to slowly increasing the range over time. It gives you more control around keeping the stretch where you want it – in your hamstrings – rather than just collapsing through your lower back.
Elevated hip internal rotation
My final mobility tip uses the same principle as for hamstring stretch. using the box to elevate the foot allows you more control of how deep you are going into the stretch. this variation we want to twist the upper body over the elevated leg, therefore putting your hips in to more internal rotation. Why is internal rotation important? Well, when running, hip joint goes through internal rotation on every single step. In both front and back foot gait. Having sufficient internal rotation in the hips will allow for better and smoother running mechanics.
You don’t need to spend endless hours stretching and mobilising. In fact, little and often is going to give you much better results than doing one big session. These movement will help condition or prime the body for running, so doing them before you go or adding them to a warm up will help improve your technique. Combining these stretches and mobility routine into your new-found strength and stability exercises is going to help you have better mechanics, reduce the risk of injuries and an all-round better runner.
If you have any questions about the topics covered above, or are interested in finding out more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org