Mobility work is something we should ALL be doing on a daily basis. It’s the number one thing we all neglect when we’re younger when it comes to fitness because at the time, we bounce back quickly from injuries. It isn’t until later into our lifting careers that we curse the skies wishing we had started corrective exercises sooner.
For running, don’t think that just because you aren’t lifting weights you are exempt from this. Runners face the repetitive stress of doing literally the same thing over and over again, for a lot of miles. What you think you avoid by not having heavy weight on your back, you make up for in incredible amounts of volume.
I’d even venture to say that if your running performance is suffering, it is due to bad movement patterns or injury. We’ve all been there. Achy knees, stiff joints, low back issues, you name it. You can’t just pound away at these issues forever and hope it goes away.
Enter - Mobility Work
This is where good mobility work comes in. Good mobility work really is just practicing taking a joint through a full range of motion, under load, PROPERLY. Think about guys who do half squats with 400lbs vs the guy who does 135lbs all the way down to the ground. On paper, the former sounds stronger. However, I guarantee if you gave even 225lbs to the first guy, and brought him through the same range of motion as the second, he’d get injured. Why? Because he never practiced that remaining range under load, and his body wasn’t prepared for it.
The best question you can ask yourself as a runner is
“What areas bother you the most?”
“Where do you get the most pain or stiffness after a run?”
Ankles - It’s easy for the ankles to tighten up after a ton of mileage over time. The achilles heel will tighten up as a response giving you less range of motion to strike when you are running.
Try doing a combat stretch for 10 seconds on each side. Really try to pull that shin to the foot and hold. Tibialis raises are good as well. Staying planted on your heels, lift your toes up for a 5 second count. Then hold it for 5 seconds, and lower it back down for 5. Repeat.
Back - It’s easy for the back to start rounding out over time. We sit all day, but even when we run, a lot of us tend to use improper form.
Try using tension movements like reach, roll, lift exercise (5-10 second holds), and active control movements like YTWL’s (8-10 reps)
Core - If we don’t keep our core tight we get energy “leaks”. In other words, instead of staying nice and tight in the core, your body starts little by little moving all over the place, tiring you out a lot quicker than you should be. If we focus on strengthening the core, then we keep the core tighter for longer, allowing you to get more distance out of your runs before you get tired.
Try doing a prone plank with posterior pelvic tilt to engage the core. Hold that isometrically for 10 seconds then relax. Repeat 3-5 times and rest. Do 3 sets. You can also do wall bugs. Lying on your back, with your hands against the wall, and legs at 90 degrees, slowly lower each one to the ground and back up to 90. To make it even harder, try keeping your core engaged, by keeping your low back in contact with the ground the entire time. If it comes off, that rep doesn’t count. Do 3 sets of 8-10 reps each side or until you can no longer maintain form.
I know I just ran through some rough guidelines to the exercises. If you are unfamiliar with the names or want to know how to do them properly, be sure to check out our MAPS Prime Pro Program or check out all the free resources on our YouTube Page.