EVERY running coach should have mobility included into their training program. A program is not complete unless mobility is viewed as the building blocks of the program. We have to view mobility and performance as intertwined, not as something separate.
WHAT IS MOBILITY?
Mobility is the ability to control a movement through a range of motion (ROM), while flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen. Mobility is viewed as an active or voluntary movement while flexibility is viewed as a passive or static movement. A person must have good flexibility in order to have good mobility. However, just because a person’s muscles are flexible does not mean those same muscles have the ability to move through a full ROM.
WHY IS MOBILITY IMPORTANT IN YOUR TRAINING PROGRAM?
Insufficient ROM can lead to an increase in injuries and a reduction in athletic performance. Mobility is essential for human movement. If you lacked mobility, you would not be able to complete basic movements such as, picking something up from the ground, rolling out of bed or looking over your shoulder.
While each individual athlete’s body is an experiment of one, we each have the same basic body design and structure. Our bodies all work in similar ways. Therefore, any great training program must have a mobility and strength component that incorporates all the fundamentals of movement. Beyond the primary demands of your sport, you should always be working towards the goal of having full functional ROM and complete control of your movements.
In running, we do a ton of repetitive movements which can lead to overuse injures due to the lack of variability in our movements. The primary motions needed for running are hip extension, dorsiflexion of the ankle, extension of the big toe, and a small amount of rotation of the mid-back.
HIP EXTENSION AND HIP FLEXION
Running in general, especially sprinting, requires hip extension and hip flexion. Restrictions to hip extension may limit stride length.
Many runners are limited by tight hip flexors. If your hip flexors are tight, then it limits the leg’s ability to extend behind the back while running. If that leg cannot extend properly then you will compensate by arching the back or rotating the pelvis. The faster you run, the more hip extension is required in order to avoid compensating with your lower back or rotating the hips. This compensation can lead to strains on the joints and muscles surrounding the hips. Furthermore, limited hip extension can cause knee and ankle issues.