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Strength Training for Runners –Part Three | Mobility, Flexibility & Recovery

Mobility, releases and your rest/regeneration days

Mobility is crazy important for any runner, and if you’ve done it before and left it a while and then come back to it, you know exactly what I mean!!! But what is mobility and why is it important?

Firstly, let’s not get mobility confused with flexibility… The basic definitions and differences are as follows:-

Mobility is the ability to control movement through a range of motion.

Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to be lengthened.

Similar, but some key differences. The concept of mobility incorporates flexibility, but not necessarily vice-versa. The key for athletes is mobility. Flexibility isn’t enough.

Mobility is a term and concept that encompasses a range of factors affecting your movement including:

· The tissues ability to lengthen

· The joint ability to move

· The nervous systems ability to relax and allow movement

· The neuromuscular systems ability to activate muscles and control movement through all ranges of motion.

Therefore: flexibility is important for mobility but not necessarily vice-versa.

How Do You Improve Mobility?

Mobility is important, and flexibility is a part of that. That doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day. Incorporating a steady stream of exercises for both flexibility and mobility into you training plan will go a long way. These will be on your active rest or regeneration days.

In addition to a general approach you should prioritise extra time for certain areas (makes sense if you’re a runner right?) You may already know the areas or your body that need to improve. Or maybe its specific to your sport. A comprehensive profile from a professional goes a long way towards targeting the areas that will get you the most bang for your buck.

Methods To Increase Mobility

· Self Myo-Fascial Release (SMFR) techniques: Sometimes these may be excruciating but can be very effective. Foam rolling, lacrosse balls and other tools are basically a type of self-massage. These techniques help you release tight spots in your muscles.

· Mobility Drills: These are exercises that are specifically geared towards training your range of motion around joints. They involve actively moving, contracting and relaxing muscles through the joints range of motion. Some of these may isolate, while others involve multi-joint movement patterns.

· Stretching: This may or may not be necessary. If you’re naturally a very flexible person ie hyper-mobile, stretching can make your joints more vulnerable to injury. However, if you’ve always been stiff, and it’s stopping you from moving well, you may benefit – see below. Some targeted stretches may be enough both as part of the warm-up and separate from it.

· Dynamic Warm-Up (covered in Part 1): Whether its 5 minutes or 30, a good dynamic warm-up can work wonders. This type of warm-up does more then only increase muscle temperature and blood. It incorporates all of the above with movement. You actually prep the elements of mobility as you prepare for the workout or competition.

So what does this look like? Below are release, SMFR, and stretches for you to do on your rest/regeneration days:

All the above should take you about 30 mins to do on your rest and regeneration day.

Below is an example of the mobility and regeneration movements that Lily had to do post long run and race (obviously as a selection of what she needed on the day).

If you are unsure on any of the exercises below and there isn't a link there are many many videos on youtube if you're unsure

Regeneration day post Race days

General: duration 20-40 min

Trigger Point

Thoracic Spine

Arch roll (tennis ball)


TFL Tennis ball

VMO and adductor (tennis ball)

Foam roll


Quad/Hip Flexor


Tibialis Anterior

Mid-upper back


Calf Stretch (with band)

Hamstring (bent leg - with band)

Adductor (side lying - top leg)

Abductor (side lying - bottom leg)

Kneeling Quad/hip flexor

Chest stretch

Walking drills: Foot and ankle strengthening

Tip toes :forwards & backwards

Toes: feet pointing out

On Toes: feet pointing in

Heel walks

Heel to toe to extension

Mobility Exercises


Static - 10

unilateral (same side) - 10

Opposite arm/leg -10 each side

Wall squat - keep knees from falling in

Glute stretch

Knee to chest - 10

90/90 - 10

Hip rockers

½ Kneeling rotations - 5-8 each side

Shoulder pulses - 10

Wall slides - 10

Y, T, W shoulder - 8 each way

Hip rotations - 8 each way

Hip rockers - as many as needed

Quad series: (opposite hand off)

Fire hydrants - 10 each way

Circles forwards - 10 each way

Circles Backwards - 10 each way

Bird dogs - 10 each way

Spiderman Lunge with rotation - 10

Walking RDLs - 5 each side

Mini band walks - 2 x 10 steps of each





Plank side crawl - 4 each way

Mountain climbers - 20

Forward hops (feet wide) - 10

Glute Bridges - 10

Air Squats - 10

Assisted squats - 10

Frog squats - 10

Cossack Squats - 10

Swiss ball Deadbugs - 20

Plank series - All for 40 seconds


Left side


Right side


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