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A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness

About a month ago I went to the doctor for the recurring discomfort in my right shin. His recommendation? Working with a trainer and getting a running/movement assessment done. The assessment was not only looking at running form but also form with a variety of functional movements. The assessment is designed to help identify imbalances, muscle weakness, and mobility all of which affect form and performance. More importantly, the assessment will help explain why I keep having a pain in my right shin after every street run.

I’ve learned so much about physiology and functional movement. It’s fascinating to realize how the total body works together to do things like run, walk, and pick things up.

Training sessions go like this:

  1. foam roll and stretch
  2. movement assessment
  3. strengthening exercises and stretching based on the movement assessment
  4. movement assessment again to identify changes/improvements which helps target what exercises and stretches were beneficial to improving overall movement
  5. running assessment
  6. homework for the week

What the assessments have told me:

  1. tight gluteus medius
  2. tight hip flexors
  3. tight in the groin
  4. poor (little to no) ankle mobility
  5. poor hip mobility
  6. medial rotation (my right hip and leg turns inward when my foot is off the ground especially when my legs are tired)
Yikes! I didn’t see all that coming! From what I understand (I asked a lot of questions in the beginning) our bodies learn to compensate for weaknesses, immobility, imbalances, etc., but eventually it catches up with you when it causes such a strain on other parts of the body. On the bright side, (because at this point I needed a bright side), my strength and balance are good.
What I’m doing about it:
Twice a day a minimum of 6 days/week I do the following stretches and rolling.

The key is form!

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness
Targeting hip flexors.
Form note: keep hips level and butt tucked

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness
Targeting hip mobility and hip flexors (increases external range of motion in the hip and lengthens hip flexors)
Form note: hips level and back leg straight
A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness
Targeting the groin and hips.

Form note: butt tilted up and pushed back to the point of feeling the stretch but not painful. Alternately pushing each knee into the floor (I’ve done frog before but I’ve never added pushing the knee into the floor. It made a big difference in where and how the stretch felt.)

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness

Targeting the gluteus medius.
Form note: when you roll onto a sore spot hold the roll there for an extended period of time.

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness
Targeting the gluteus medius.
Form note: a lacrosse ball should be in every athletes gym bag! When I use the foam roller it doesn’t always feel like my hips/glute med need to be rolled. If that happens I use a lacrosse ball and I’m always able to find the trouble spots. Just like with a roller if you hit a sore spot hold the ball there for an extended period of time.

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness

Targeting ankle mobility and tightness.
Form note: keep the ball right below the toes on the forefront of your foot and keep knee straight. Rotate side to side with as little knee rotation as possible.

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness

Targeting ankle mobility and tightness.
Form note: make sure l leg, ankle and foot are in alignment (my right foot tends roll out with the stretch).

A Running Assessment and Increasing Mobility jillconyers.com @jillconyers #running #fitness

Targeting ankle mobility and tightness.
Form note: keep your foot under your body allowing you to apply slight pressure while rotating your ankle in each direction. Keep your forefoot and toes on the ground.

It’s been 4 weeks and, based on how running feels and range of motion with stretching, I have noticed an improvement overall except with hip mobility and medial rotation when my legs are tired.

Hopefully what I’m doing is in fact targeting what is causing the shin discomfort. Who knows? Maybe it’s not, but what I have learned is beneficial nonetheless.

My BIG take aways so far?

  • Make stretching more of a priority! If I’m short on time I’m bad about stretching very little.
  • I sit a lot at work and that has a HUGE affect on mobility and flexibility especially in the lower body.

I know you goes already know this but I am not a doctor or trained specialist. This information is based on recommendations of an orthopedic doctor, working with a certified trainer, my body and specific individual needs.

Do you make stretching a priority? Have you had a running/movement assessment done? What did you learn?

Be HEALTHY. Be HAPPY. Be YOU.

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43 Comments

  1. Love the post!
    I haven’t had a regular assessment, but took a good form running clinic once. And I find the difference in a week of stretching/rolling to when I’m not!

  2. Great article! It looks like we all need to add more stretching into our every day routine! I am definitely guilty! I need to focus on once per day- great stretches and pictures!

  3. Yes, i’ve learned that my foot and knee flare out too when I run ( but in the opposite direction of what your does). I learned that a different pair of shoes can make a difference but the real problem was probably pelvic problems. I went to the ortho and got x-rays and no pelvic problems were shown.

    I continue to do some of those stretches you show cus I m very tight all over!

  4. I try to practice those stretches as much as I can. Not sure why we all seem to neglect stretching so much! I need to get much better about being consistent with them!

  5. How interesting! I used to be great about stretching, but I’ve been slacking lately. Those frogger stretches (your third pic) are sooooo good!

  6. I never really thought about how much my sitting at work probably affects my body more than just cardio fitness. The tightness all over has gotten worse. Great information, I hope you feel better.

    1. Thanks Carrie. It never really occurred to me how much sitting I do at work and the impact it has on my body. When I go back to work after summer break I’m going to figure out how I can NOT sit so much during my work day.

  7. I just find it fascinating that our mobility issues & inbalances can be solved stretching. However knowing to stretch without being told can be hit and miss.
    I love all these stretches and try do them regularly.
    People (including myself) under estimate the power of a good stretch.

    1. We do under estimate it Matilda. We know we need to and yet continue to slack off. It makes no sense.

      1. This post was a great reminder to add yoga to my workout. Infact today I was feeling sore, so I took the extra 20mins to do a good stretch before I did my weights, and I feel so much better for it.
        Tomorrow is a scheduled day off, but I think I’ll make it yoga day instead.

  8. I don’t run much anymore but I know I have some mobility issues from when I did. I’m going to try out some of these – especially the ones for the ankles.
    Thanks for sharing Jill!

  9. LOVE this post and it is just what I needed to read (and really glad you posted pics too). I need to do more stretching and the Dr this week confirmed that, especially dealing with Plantar and the bone spur. You are right, it really is about making the time to do so. I’m realizing it’s more important as I age (which stinks sometimes;(), but it could be worse! Thanks Jill!

      1. Calf stretch but the one where you put hands against a wall and then lean into the wall. You know the one. Typical runner stretch. The other is taking a towel while sitting and wrapping it around ball of foot and gently pull foot towards you. Finally putting a towel on floor, using your toes, crunch the towel with toes and pull towards you. I do it sitting too.

  10. This post came at the perfect time! My stretching has gone by the wayside 🙁 I’ve never been super flexible, but I know as I run more the more I’m going to notice things getting tighter. I’ll be bookmarking this page to use daily!

    1. Hi Heather, hope the info is helpful and we BOTH stop pushing stretching to the wayside 🙂

    1. It does Lisa! Especially the lax ball! It can find sore spots you didn’t even know you have 🙂

    1. Hi Debbie, my orthopedic doc recommended his trainer. I’m not sure where I would have looked otherwise. Maybe a physical therapist?

  11. Great stretches! I have tight hips/glutes and groin and the stretches you showed are awesome!

  12. Oh – I’m horrible about stretching – some of those moves are totally new to me but I might try some. lately I’ve felt pretty good running but I think being proactive would go a long way to keeping me pain free.

    1. We know it’s good for us and yet so many slack off on stretching myself included (before now). Makes no sense does it?

  13. I think this accessment was a great idea! I’ve considered getting on myself in a few weeks when I meet with the PT again.
    Your “take aways” are a few things I am also working on, stretching wasn’t a big thing for me before, but now that I am getting past all the work injuries stretching has become a much, much bigger role in my life, especially after workouts!
    Because my jobs are so active, I have also had to learn that I can’t just jump right in and do them, I now to a small pre-warm up so that I don’t dive into something at work, lifting something heavy etc.. that my body wasn’t ready to do.
    Sometimes taking a step back and looking at what we do, and how we can improve is really a great thing for all of us to do!

    1. You’re right Kristy. A step back can give us a whole new perspective. Did you decide whether or not to have the assessment done?

  14. So interesting, Jill! I’ve been thinking about an assessment because I’ve been dealing with some plantar fasciitis … my chiropractor is helping but I think I could use more. I love the lacrosse ball for my feet!

    1. Me too Megan. I travel with the lacrosse ball when I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking and/or running.

  15. Ho ho, gett fancy are we Jill? I’ve never heard of a running accessment but ance my feet tend to flop out from underneath me many times, i think I should check it out!

  16. Thank you for sharing this! Stretching is super important and even more than that, knowing the right way and proper form for certain stretches is crucial to targeting the specific muscles. Lately I feel like I need a good and proper hip stretch – I am going to follow your form from the pictures above.

    1. Meredith, I was so surprised by how much just a few tweaks of my form (I thought I was doing it right) increased the effectiveness of the stretch.

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