Looking for a powerful mobility training routine to help you improve performance and reduce injury risk?
You’re in the right place.
All runners know that stretching is part and parcel of a well-rounded training plan.
Regular stretching feels good, increases flexibility, releases tension, corrects muscle imbalance, and improves technique—all of which make running more enjoyable and efficient.
That said, mobility training is also important.
It’s actually one of the keys to training longevity as it helps reduce injury risk, keep the joints healthy, and ensure optimal performance.
Yet, so many runners miss out on its benefits, whether they don’t know much about mobility’s impact on performance or are simply unwilling to invest time doing mobility drills (I understand, we’re all busy, but that’s no excuse).
Here’s the truth: Improving your mobility doesn’t have to burn off long hours from your day.
In fact, as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough to reap physical performance gains.
In today’s article, I’ll explain what mobility is all about and share a few mobility drills as well as how to incorporate mobility work into your workout routine.
Before we go into the many ways mobility training improves your athletic performance, let’s take a look at what mobility actually means.
Flexibility VS Mobility
Most runners know what flexibility is, but they often confuse it with mobility.
Understanding the difference is key as mobility training is much more than just stretching.
Let’s see which is which.
Flexibility stands for the ability of the soft tissues to stretch in a specific direction.
It’s the lengthening of muscles in a passive way.
For example, if you can reach your toes from a standing position without bending your knees, or scratch every part of your back unassisted, you’re pretty flexible.
Mobility, on the other hand, is about how freely you can move a joint through a range of controlled motions, before being limited with control.
It’s your ability to exert force throughout a greater range of motion.
For example, if you can press dumbells behind your neck, get into a deep squat with weights on your back, or do gymnastics, you have good mobility.
Now that you have an idea what mobility is all about, let’s look at how it can help improve your running performance.
The Benefits Of Mobility Training For Runners
Whether you just took up running to lose weight, are preparing for your 5th marathon, or just running for the joy of it, working on improving your mobility could give you a big performance boost!
Good mobility helps us pay more attention to our bodies and our range of motion, leading to improved running technique and fewer injuries.
Let’s see why…
Poor mobility limits your ability to run at a faster pace.
The main goal of mobility training is to improve the position of the joint, which helps increase power output, resulting in efficient performance.
When you have a good range of motion, you can push move much more efficiently.
This translates to a faster pace and improved athletic performance.
Reduced Injury Risk
A lack of mobility makes you prone to pain and injury, especially as you ramp up your training.
For instance, research shows that limited hip mobility may lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band syndrome, hip pain, and a host other issues.
Better Awareness & Technique
Mobility training can make you more aware of how your body moves and your range of motion, which results in better running form.
The Mobility Training Routine You Need
Here’s a 15-minute routine to improve the range of motion in all major joints and strengthen the surrounding stabilizing muscles.
You can perform these movements as part of your dynamic warm-up or your cool-down.
Perform it two to three times a week to take your running efficiency and power to the next level.
Squat to Stand
A great movement for mobilizing the inner thighs and hamstrings.
Begin by standing, feet slightly farther than shoulder-width apart.
Next, while bending your knees much as needed, bend over and grab the bottom of your feet, pulling yourself into a deep squat position.
As you assume the bottom position, focus on pushing your knees out, forcing your chest up, and keeping the heels low as you lower your body toward the floor.
Hold for a moment, then push your hips upward until you feel the stretching in your hamstrings.
Try to keep a slight arch in the lower back, chest up and knees out the entire time.
Shoot for 8-10 reps.
Additional resource – Should you run after leg day?
Chest Stretch With Broomstick
This drill mobilizes the upper back.
It improves shoulder mobility and stretches the arm and chest muscles.
Stand tall, assuming an athletic position.
Then grab with your hands the end of the broomstick, using a pretty wide grip.
While keeping your core engaged and elbows straight, lift the broomstick up and over your head.
Next, while keeping arms straight, slowly rotate the broomstick up, overhead, and behind the hips (or as low as possible).
Widen your grip if you’re having issues getting the pipe overhead.
That’s one rep.
This move not only opens up your hips but also improves mobility and relieves tightness in the core, back, and groin.
Place your front foot on the floor, knee bent at 90 degrees angle.
Bend your right knee and place your shin along the back cushion of a chair or a couch with the toes pointed upward.
While keeping your right thigh in line with your body, place your left foot, aligning the knee over the ankle.
Engage your core, elongate your spine, and keep your hips square.
You should feel tension through the hips flexors and quads on that right leg.
Wall Ankle Mobilization
A great drill for improving ankle mobility.
Start by facing a wall, toes of your right foot against the wall.
While keeping the right heel planted, try to shift your knee toward the wall, having it go past the toes.
Next, straighten your front knee and slide your foot back a bit so that your toes are roughly an inch away from the wall then repeat.
Continue on moving back gradually until your kneecap is barely touching the wall.
Your knee should go straight forward and not inward, the heel remaining on the ground the entire time.
You should feel a stretch in the posterior lower leg.
It’s a good idea to back off if you feel pinching in the front.
Perform 8 to 10 reps on each side, preferably in minimal footwear, to complete one set.
Looking for more exercises?
Here’s the speed drills routine you need to improve your running speed.
More Mobility Exercises For Runners And Athletes
Without further ado, here’s a series of exercises you can almost do anywhere to improve your hip mobility and strength. The following exercises will help loosen your hip flexors and strengthen the surrounding stabilizing muscles.
- Standing Hip Figure Eight
Begin by standing on your left leg, then bring your right knee up to a 90-degree angle and then move it through a figure “8” motion. Hold on to a chair or wall for balance.
2. The 90/90
Start by sitting on the ground, then bend your right leg in front of your body with your hip rotavated out.
Next, get your chin as close to your foot as possible by moving your upper body forward. Again, keep the motion fluidly and only hold at the bottom for a moment.
Repeat the movement 8 to 10 times, then switch sides. Make sure to keep your torso stacked over your hips the entire time.
You should feel tension throughout your body as you go through the movements.
Spend around 60 to 90 seconds on each side to complete one set.
Start by placing your right leg forward and your left back. Next, position your left leg beside you while keeping your hip rotavated inward and your ankle and shin on the floor. Next, bend your right knee so your leg forms a 90 degrees angle. Your ankle should be neutral, and your left knee in line with your hip.
3. Spiderman Stretch
Assume a push-up position, supporting your weight on your hands and toes. Make sure to engage your core, so your back is flat and not arched or rounded.
Next, bring your right leg to the outside of your hands, with the foot pointed forward and the entire foot planted on the floor. Next, let your right knee travel far ahead of your foot for more stretch by dropping your hips toward the ground. Just keep your heel planted on the ground the entire time.
Hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds, flexing slightly forward for a deeper stretch. Then bring your right leg back to the push-up position and change sides for anywhere from 6 to 8 reps for each leg.
4. Supine Hip Rotation
Start by lying flat on your back, arms extended to your sides with your palms on the floor.
Next, while bending your knees to a 90-degree angle, bring your legs into the air, then drop them to your right side. Again, make sure to keep the upper and middle back flat on the ground.
You should feel the stretch deep into your left hip. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then bring your legs back to the starting position and switch sides.
Repeat 4 to 6 times per side.
5. Frog Stretch
Start in a table position on your hands and knees, facing sideways on your mat. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrist under your shoulders.
Next, lower your upper body to your forearms while sliding your knees apart. If your knees are sensitive, you can fold your yoga mat or add planets to help take off some of the pressure.
Hold the stretch for one to two minutes. Then slowly return to starting position. You’re doing it right if you only feel the stretch or tightness in your inner thigh/adductor area.
6. The Yogi Squat
This is a hard one to pull off, so if you struggle to stay upright and/or on your feet, feel free to hold onto a chair or railing for balance.
Assume an athletic stance, with feet about shoulder-width apart and legs turned out from your hips. Next, while engaging your core and keeping your low back fat, lower yourself into a low squat position. Do your best to tock side to side without falling over.
Bend your knees and hips and slowly lower into a very low squat while keeping your chest up, knees in line with your toes, and heels planted on the floor the entire time.
For a deeper stretch, place your elbows within your knees, then press your palms together in front of your chest.
7. Reverse Plank/inverse tabletop
Start by lying on your back with hands placed by your rips and fingertips facing your feet.
Next, press your hips upward so that your hands and feet are the only part of your your body in contact with the ground. Make sure your body is straight from your head to your feet.
For a deeper stretch, lift your right knee off the floor and hold for 20-30 seconds.
There you have it! If you’re looking to improve your mobility as a runner, then today’s article will put you on the right path. The rest is just details.
Thank you for dropping by.
Keep running strong.