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Mobility VS Flexibility for Runners- Part 1

As runners, we need to perform pre-run dynamic warm ups and post-run stretches to support good flexibility. Mobility is another important factor for runners to support good running form and avoid muscle and joint tightness to prevent injuries. Runners need to add both flexibility and mobility exercises to support muscles and joints health for a life-long good running form.

Mobility is Active

Mobility is the active movement of a joint through a good range of motion without restriction of pain or assistance from a tendon or ligament. Mobility is similar to a door. A door is attached to a frame, and moves open and close supported by hinges. The door only has a certain range of motion, opens and closes to a certain point, that is a full range of motion. Let’s say we put a door stopper on the door so that it can’t close fully, if we attach a rubber band to the door knob and try to pull the door and close with the rubber band, it will snap and break.

The same can happen with our body when we don’t have a full range of motion, and our tendons need to move in strange ways to get unstuck. That is one common issue with Achilles injuries.

Flexibility is Passive

The passive range of motion movement involves stretching muscles using external force, like a strap, gravity or a physio therapist. Flexibility refers to connective tissue, like muscles, ligaments and tendons. On the other hand, mobility is about the ability of a muscle to move through its full range at the joint. If mobility is like a door opening, then flexibility is like pulling the rubber band.

We can be flexible, but not mobile. Flexibility is just one part of mobility. Strength, coordination and soft tissue performance are other components of mobility.

With our daily life schedule, work schedule, many runners have to spend many hours sitting at their desk at work. The body gets used to that position and causes some muscle issues when we want to move. It causes muscle tightness, that’s why doing regular hip flexor stretches is very important. But those stretches are just part of that combination of flexibility and mobility. Now we know that we can’t only focus on muscle release, but also work through a full range of motion.

Side Effects of Lack of Mobility

  • Injuries due to a change in running form (tight hips cause rotation as we work on speed

  • Reduced speed due to limited range of motion

  • Compression and strain on the joints or muscles

  • Inability to improve running performance

It is important to maintain mobility, especially as we get older. For master runners, muscles tend to lose elasticity, causing more stiffer bodies and a decline in balance.

Mobility Test

Mobility moves require continuous movement, which build strength at the end of range of motion. Which means less injuries for runners, with a better range of motion, we can push off the ground our muscles that are not tight, and we can move more efficiently.

Testing the moves on the chart will help to see what is tight or lacking in full range of motion if you’re not able to do the movement, or need to spend more time working on the movement.

Specific Body Areas Responsible for Mobility

  • Ankles- Force production and correct alignment of the leg.

  • Knees- Improve joint lubrication.

  • Hips- Better stride and reduced twisting of torso causing injuries.

  • Spine- Standing tall for better breathing and prevents rotation.

  • Shoulders- We need to use our arms for proper running form.

Without full range of motion in these joints, our performance will be affected. Mobility incorporates a variety of exercises that strengthen the smaller and weaker muscles around the joints that normal strength training does not include.

Performing these 4 mobility exercises workout will make a huge difference in the running performance.

  • Frog Pose

  • Pigeon Pose with Movement

  • Deep squat Rotation

  • 90/90 Forward-Lateral Fold

Mobility Exercises Video

Improve Your Mobility, Feel Great, Run Forever!


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