Goal of Book Review
The intent of this book review is to provide useful information and education regarding the prerequisites for running successfully, including lifestyle and behavior strategies, as well mobility/range-of-motion requirements. Links to videos for mobilization techniques are provided at the end of each Standard.
“We must be fit in order to run, rather than run to get fit.”
This review does not go in detail for specifics regarding running technique, but additional information can be found here on that topic.
For the sake of keeping things concise, this book review is broken up into 4 parts:
Part 1: Standards 1-3
(1) Neutral feet, (2) Flat Shoes, (3) A Supple Thoracic Spine
Part 2: Standards 4-6
(4) An Efficient Squatting Technique, (5) Hip Flexion, (6) Hip Extension
Part 3: Standards 7-9
(7) Ankle Range of Motion, (8) Warming Up & Cooling Down, (9) Compression
Part 4: Standards 10-12
(10) No Hotspots, (11) Hydration, (12) Jumping & Landing
STANDARD #7: Ankle Range of Motion
**Question: Do you have enough ankle range of motion (ROM) to allow you to run well?**
“Unglued ankles allow you to move with optimal patterns and access the full, free power of elastic recoil for your running.”
Loss of ankle dorsiflexion (pulling your foot toward the shin) can negatively impact running via the classic turned-out duck-foot posture, which can result in increased knee valgus stress, collapsed arches, abnormal Achilles stress, and bunions, to name a few.
In English, this means painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, runner’s knee (including patellofemoral/knee-cap pain and IT band syndrome), hip pain, and low back pain can develop, all as a result of poor ankle mobility.
How do the ankles get so screwed up in the first place? Well, consistently wearing high-heeled dress shoes or high-heeled running shoes positions your foot into plantar flexion (toes pointing down), which will result in short/stiff/tight muscles and fascia of the bottom of the foot, Achilles tendon, and calf complex. Habits such as the turned-out feet posture when standing around can also contribute to the problem (see Standard #1 for more details).
Tests for full ankle mobility:
- Pistol Squat:
- Hero Pose:
Need help with ankle mobility? Try these:
STANDARD #8: Warming Up & Cooling Down
**Question: Do you routinely perform pre-run warm-ups and post-run cool-downs?**
If you’re anything like me, this is where you will cut corners in order to save time. As I have learned and grown over time, I have realized that the priority shouldn’t be the final numbers on your Garmin or Apple Watch that tell you how far you ran or how many calories you burned. Yes, those things are important, but we have to take care of our bodies first and foremost. After all, we only get one.
“By making a concentrated effort to perform a solid warm-up and cool-down before and after each and every workout that includes running, you’ll gain tremendous injury prevention and accelerated recovery benefits.”
“Training is not about the workout alone. It’s also about how you prepare for the workout and how you close it out….It’s about thinking of yourself as an athlete around the clock.”
And don’t use the beginning of your run as your warm up either. Running is a series of single leg hops. So if you don’t warm up, you will just be abusing your cold, sore, and/or stiff muscles, connective tissues, and joints.
Think of it this way: would you hop in a fancy sports car early in the morning and gun it right away, or would you drive around for a few minutes until the engine temperature warms up first? Seems like a no brainer doesn’t it. For some reason, warming up isn’t.
Every time you workout, start with a few minutes of walking to get the blood flowing. Then transition to some dynamic movements like arm circles, lunges, air squats, or burpees to ramp up the blood flow and tissue temperature. Then spend a couple minutes mobilizing any high-priority joints (ankles, hips, thoracic spine), or ROM issues you may have. Lastly, spend a couple minutes jumping rope, which will warm up the foot muscles, prime the foot strike pattern, and further increase blood flow to the working muscles.
If you’re worried about extra time after your workout to dedicate to cooling down, then try turning your last half-mile run into your cool down, including walking, arm swings, leg swings, trunk rotations, etc. Shoot for 10-15 minutes of cool down time, if possible.
After the workout, drink plenty of fluids (including electrolytes) throughout the day, and make sure you aren’t sitting around for the rest of the day. Sitting/inactivity leads to increased stiffness and soreness since the muscles are no longer contracting, which decreases blood circulation. After a workout, it is crucial to maintain some muscle contraction and therefore blood flow in order to clear out the waste products of exercise. How to do this? Change positions frequently. Why do this? To get your body back to baseline homeostasis as quickly as possible to reduce injury risk and allow you to perform at a high level again.
STANDARD #9: Compression
“This Standard is meant as a time-efficient helper for time-stressed runners, and it’s a simple one to implement.”
We’ve all heard of compression socks for the elderly population to assist with circulation, decrease swelling, decrease varicose veins, etc. But compression can be a very useful tool for the active population as well, especially those who are pressed for time, have long commutes, and have sedentary working environments that congest the soft tissues, especially in the lower legs.
Compression decreases swelling and congestion that accumulates in the lower legs when sitting. When we are active, decongestion is achieved via muscle contraction, which “squeezes” the blood vessels and lymphatic system to return the fluid up the leg, rather than pooling down below. After a workout or a run, the last thing you want to do is sit around with very little movement, as this scenario is a recipe for stiff/sore muscles. Compression socks allow for the same mechanism to occur; compressing the blood vessels and lymphatic system to return the fluid up the leg, therefore improving circulation.
Try running in them if you want, but the main point here is to wear them after the workout or run, especially for long commutes, flights, and sitting at work for long periods.
You can find compression socks at your local running store or online for less than $30.