Running is more fun when you’re feeling good and setting PRs. Unfortunately, stiffness can get in the way. Stiffness may not seem that terrible, but when it comes to your running it can diminish the quality of your runs, slow you down, and create other issues throughout your body. Kelly Starrett shares a few solutions for runners to end stiffness and recover better so you can get back at it feeling your best.
Hip/IT Band Stiffness w/ Mobility Ball
Hip stiffness is no joke for runners. Running causes hip rotators to spend a lot of time in a shortened range of motion, which causes them to become overactive and stiff. The flexor wad also tends to become stiff as a part of the IT band complex. Doing a little bit of targeted soft tissue work on these hip rotators can really give relief to stiff hips and IT bands. Grab a mobility ball and work through the following steps:
- On the ground, lay down on your side in a comfortable, running shape position
- Insert mobility ball between your hip flexor and the ground
- Bring the leg closest to the ground up or move it back into a little bit of an extension
- Allow the ball to dig into your hip flexor
Next, it’s time to move into a few isometric concepts…
- Take a 4 second inhale
- Contract into the ball, where the ball is digging into the hip, for 4 seconds
- Relax for 8 seconds letting yourself melt around the ball
- Repeat this routine 3-4 times
Little doses of positional specific training and isometric training in aggregation can create massive change. Don’t worry about trying to fix everything in one or two sessions. You’ll find the most benefit by doing a little bit consistently.
Calf Stiffness w/ Foam Roller
Scrub your calves, don’t roll. Scrubbing is the latest foam rolling technique that will do wonders for muscles. Calf stiffness can cause major dysfunction in the heel, knee, or foot so it’s worth taking the time to address stiffness head on.
Step 1: Lower Calf/Ankle Scan
- Start with the foam roller under your ankle
- Place your other leg on top to apply extra pressure to the area
- Scan the area from ankle bone to ankle bone and work side to side on the roller
- Add in some foot circles while digging the roller into the tissues
- The goal is to accumulate 3-4 minutes per side each week
Step 2: Complete Calf Scrub
Addressing how the fascia and connective tissue articulate with some of the sub surfaces like the tendon can radically improve the calf system. Scrubbing is a great method to break up adhered tissues to promote good articulation of sliding surfaces. Using a foam roller with some texture to it is the most effective for scrubbing. Kelly Starrett uses the Rumble Roller.
- To scrub, use the foam roller to push and pull the skin, one area at a time.
- Scrub from the base of the heel all the way up to where the gastrocnemius starts to show it’s head
Active Recovery w/ Marc Pro
After a run it’s easy to think that you don’t need much more activity for the remainder of the day. You already did our time and now you just want to rest. Or for many people, their jobs require them to sit, so they can’t move much even if they wanted to. The issue with this is that there isn’t enough movement during the day then to decongest the tissues.
There is no substitute for getting in those 10,000-15,000 steps of walking each day, but if you’re going to use your time to be able to run and train, then it can be a struggle to get enough movement in. One of the best ways to get movement in and decongest the system is by doing active recovery with the Marc Pro. Marc Pro is a recovery tool that allows you to get non-fatiguing movement in and can be used while at a desk or at home in the evening, so it doesn’t take up any extra time.
If you have stiffness in your quads, hips, or calves, getting in light movement can work wonders to loosen things up. If you have an old runner’s knee and your knee gets a little bit hot sometimes, movement is always a great way to get back to baseline the next day. Kelly Starrett uses these (image shown) as his go-to placements for runners.
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