What do most all endurance athletes have in common? They need to stretch. 10 out of 10 runners will need to open their ankles. 9 out of 10 will need more knee space. 8 out of 10 will need more range throughout their hips. A balance between stability and mobility is vital for our joints to function healthfully. A combination of modalities will prove best. Foam rolling, stretching, strengthening, and practicing quality movement is the essential foundation for creating range-of-motion that is functional.
When it comes to stretching areas for runners, Fascial Stretch Therapy is my go-to modality for the hips, knees, and ankle joints. If you’re stretching or moving and you feel stuck in your joints and your tissues feel like they aren’t moving, you will benefit from a technique called traction. Traction is performed by feeling the angle, tautness, and integrity, and position of the joint. 50% of flexibility is found in the joint capsule. Muscles will reflexively relax when the capsule is stretched allowing for a complete stretch of the myofascial lines. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, so it should move in all three planes. Since running is predominantly linear, moving and stretching in all the other two planes will help promote and healthy relationship within the joint between the muscles that act on the joint. By using the hip in a 360-degree range, one can increase muscle activation, which adds power, movement efficiency, and helps reduce repetitive stress injuries. Fascial stretching with full-range-of-motion and maximum leverage is the best tool to accelerate your flexibility with no pain in the shortest amount of time.