If you really want to improve your run then you need to look at your Running Mobility and Motor Control.
We all know that running well is running efficiently, we've all seen those runners who seem to glide or float along and wonder how they do this, especially after the bike segment. Well here's the secret, your mobility and motor control skills must be in check and fully functioning/firing.
Great so we know what it is but how do we screen for this and what can we do about it, read one.
No matter where I am, the minute I see someone running I can't help but mentally breakdown their running style, and after seeing thousands of runners there are a few common problems that can be easily be identified.
The first is an insufficient range of movement to run effectively. Normal hip flexion (knee to chest) is more than 70 degrees when lying down. A normal range of hip extension (the ability to allow your leg to travel behind you) is 10 degrees.
This equates to the ability to raise the leg with the toes pointed while the other has the toes pulled towards you while lying prostate. If the raised-leg foot clears the height of your heel, that’s about 10 degrees.
If you do not have the ability to do either of those, you have a range of motion limiter that we’ll term a mobility problem. But what about if you have that range but still lack the ability to demonstrate that range in standing, as needed for running?
If that is you then you have a stability or motor control problem. In other words, while you may have adequate range for whatever reason, some of your wirings is faulty and you can’t use it when needed.
Here’s how it works:
If you don’t have range, you have a mobility issue and a motor control issue because once you develop the range, you will need to pattern it.
If you have the range but not the ability to express it functionally then you have a motor control issue.
If you’re like most triathletes, you’ll find yourself in the first category with both mobility and motor control problems. There is good news though, if you follow the system below then you can see big improvements in your running economy.
Release:Get a hockey/Polo ball and stick it in your hip flexor. If you choose to do this face-up you’ll need a weight like a kettlebell to tack it down in place. The alternative is to lie on it and use your body weight to get stuck into the tight spots.
Activate: The straight-leg glute bridge is an excellent exercise that will tie into running. Place a tennis ball at the bottom of the ribs and hold it in place with the front of the thigh. Resist the temptation to stick the ball right in the hip socket as you won’t need to use your hip flexor much in that position, which is precisely the issue we’re trying to fix. An alternative for those who are not yet ready for this version is to hug the leg with the arms.
Using the hip of the straight leg, raise your butt as high off the ground as you can. Remember, the best-case scenario is 10 degrees, so don’t feel bad if you barely move. Five reps of five-second holds is our goal here on both sides.
Integrate: Now get a band and grab hold of it in both hands and pull down. This will help switch your abs on slightly and allow the hip to relax and do its job and flex. Once you have brought your hands down, raise the knee up to at least hip height, just as you were forced to do in the straight-leg bridge. Lower the leg before releasing the hands and repeat. Again, five reps of five-second holds are the goal.
Locomote: Time to go for a short run. The best run to help lock this in place is a fast-paced run, far faster than race pace, but not quite sprinting. Ideally i will have my athletes do this on a track. This encourages you to use full range both in flexion and extension and locks in the motor pattern we just developed.
With the difference, it can make to your running and your overall race time, a little time spent on patterning work can pay big dividends.
Sisu Racing Triathlon Coach