Run With Mobility – Run Longer

July 27, 2017
Elisabeth Wolstenholme

I have a passion for runners. Running takes strength, mobility, stability, endurance, and heart! Young and old, beginners and elite. I love to go to the finish line at marathons and triathlons, not to watch the leaders come through, but to experience all the emotional moments at the back of the pack. To see people finish a journey that they never believed they would be able to accomplish. The hugs, the tears, the smiles. Fuel for me to do better myself. However, running without mobility can lead to inefficient running and possibly injury.

I have also seen the culture of pain. A running culture where an inevitable part of the experience is structural injury. Injuries bragged about, and trained through, like a badge of courage. Shin splints, knees, lower back, feet, and IT bands. Those are the most common. Sound familiar? Too often I’ve heard people state, “running is bad for the knees”, and “I have really tight hamstrings because I am a runner”. Nothing could be further from the truth. We were born to run, and have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years. The only difference is, our distant relatives didn’t only run, they MOVED. Chronic running injuries are a new phenomenon. Why?

Why Mobility?

Think about a stride meant to carry you over a long distance. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but when that is all you do problems arise. Lets look in to a couple components:

  1. A distance runners stride is very short. You can’t cover to much distance with a long one. Combine that with the enormous amount of strides that it takes to cover just a few miles, and you end up with a ton of repetition at around 20-25% of your potential range of motion at the hips, knees, and ankles.
  2. Second, there are three planes of motion your body can move in: forward/backward, side to side, and rotationally. Running requires one plane at all joints, the forward/backward plane. That puts your entire body in a box, and when that happens, you can bet the house it is going to bark back at you eventually.
Why Does Mobility Come First?

Isn’t running a stability exercise? The short answer is yes. You have to absorb 3-5 times your body weight, with a single leg, every step you take. Those joints better be stable to catch that force. If they can’t handle this task it takes a lot more energy to run. However mobility always comes before stability. Being able to move a joint across its full range of motion typically means that the joint is aligned properly. It is in the right spot or it wouldn’t be able to move that well anyway. If mobility doesn’t come first, then stability exercises can easily strengthen joints into a poorly aligned position. It is best to use a standard of mobility as a clearing test to start stability exercises for a runner.

How Do I Improve My Mobility?

At Advantage Training we never skip mobility training. A proper dynamic warmup improves mobility across all planes of motion through all joints. It’s a critical piece of what we do. We start with a Functional Movement Screen that shows us exactly where mobility issues exist. This allows us to build a program with information on what injuries are most likely to happen, if they haven’t already. Want more tips on running? Follow us social media for some direct tips on warming up before your run. Better yet, schedule a visit to our facility and see exactly I or any of our personal trainers can help you.

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Elisabeth Wolstenholme

Elisabeth Wolstenholme attended the University of Arizona where she focused on speech therapy. Her most proud accomplishment is being a mother to her daughters Eleanor, Emilia, and Claire. She enjoys practicing yoga, painting, learning about art history, reading and language. Elisabeth also volunteers at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts, as a docent, and currently serves as Advantage Training's Health Cultural Specialist.

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