Runners frequently bemoan their tight hips, quads, hamstrings as well as ankles. Those problem areas are often the cause of injuries. In order counteract this, we add stretching as well as strength training to our routines, however many of us still end up with niggling aches and pains. If this sounds familiar, you’re probably missing one key element to your training plan: mobility work.
Mobility often gets confused with flexibility however there are some key differences. First, let’s look at the definitions:
- Mobility: the active movement of a joint through its entire range of motion without restriction, pain or assistance from an external source (another person, a strap, etc.). In other words, it’s simply the ability to move well.
- Flexibility: the passive range of motion available to you when you temporarily stretch a muscle using an external force for instance a strap, the assistance of another person or gravity.
Why Does Mobility Matter For Runners?
Mobility drills make runners more aware of our bodies as well as our range of motion. This leads to better running form as well as less injuries. As we said before, runners’ hips are notoriously tight and we often use them only in a straight forward motion, this move assists with increasing range of motion in the joint and can loosen up tight areas.
How do you loosen up tight hips? It’s not just via stretching – these mobility moves are going to provide both flexibility as well as strength. Here are some moves to increase mobility.
- Standing figure Eight:
Stand on your right leg and bring your left knee up to 90 degrees. Move it through figure 8 motion. It may feel awkward, however that’s ok. It is necessary that you work the hip in a number of different planes.
- Hurdle Step:
Imagine that you have a hurdle (the kind from the athletics field) on your right side. Swing your left leg up and over. Then bring your right leg over. Repeat the movement by moving back across your imaginary hurdle. Get that leg up quite high.
- Frog Stretch:
This move looks deceptively easy. Begin with both knees wider than your yoga mat with your legs straight behind you (don’t pull your feet together like child’s pose). Gradually push back and you should feel the stretch through your inner thigh. If not try legs wider or ensure your legs are straight.
How Often Should You Be Doing These Sorts Of Exercises?
We have a straightforward rule of thumb:
- 1 x weekly = Not sufficient
- 2 x weekly = Maintenance
- 3 x weekly = You’ll begin to see progress
- 4 x weekly = A good average to aim for in an average running week
- 5 x weekly = If you’re performing intensive rehab, or are else not running for some reason
If you are able to aim to perform these exercises on average between 3-4 times weekly as a maintenance practice, you’ll be in a good place when it comes to providing yourself a chance to continue running injury-free.
If you are eager to discover more about mobility exercises, then you need to do our Personal Training Diploma. Read more about this here.