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 #4: An Efficient Squatting Technique
**Question: Can you squat correctly with your hip crease dropping below the knee? Can you do it repetitively without losing form when fatigued?**
This standard is about having good hip function and good ankle function. To squat well is the foundation of good movement patterns that enable you to access power from your posterior chain and protect you from injury.
Ever heard something like, “you have weak hips” or, your “glutes aren’t firing.” Well, improving your squatting technique/ability can solve the issue of “weak glutes” by spending time in a deep hip flexed position, and provide improved hip strength and power for running.
“Being a runner shouldn’t mean that you can’t lift a box or push a baby stroller without the threat of a season-ending injury. Developing and mastering your squat will give both your running and your life a boost.”
1. A good, basic air squat: do a squat with hip crease dropping below knees and return to starting position
Stand with feet just outside shoulder-width -- the classic power stance in athletics
- Imagine you are going to jump as high as possible
- Position feet straight ahead or slightly turned out
- Avoid: duck foot (turned out excessively), and pigeon-toed
Activate your butt and posterior chain
- Before you squat, activate your posterior chain muscles (arches, hamstrings, hips, trunk) by “spreading the floor”
- Arms forward for counterbalance before you squat
Drive your knees outward
- Feet still flat, heels down
- “Drive knees out” to keep knees pointing in same direction as the 2nd & 3rd toes (big toe is 1st toe)
Drop your hips below your knees without extending your knees past your toes
- Hip crease should be below the knees
- Knees should be going forward, but not too much that heels come off the floor and/or knees go past toes
Hang out in the squat position
- Spent at least 10 minutes a day in the squat position
- Improves required mobility in the hips and ankles
- Good squat mobility = good ankle and hip mobility/function = improved running
Use a support
- Use a table or pole/beam to assist you in the deep squat position if needed due to stiffness/tightness in the ankles and/or hips, or other mobility and/or strength deficits making it difficult to hold the position
- Valgus Knees: knock-kneed, or knees driving towards each other at any point during the squat or return to standing
- Duck Feet: Feet turned out excessively -> arches drop -> knees collapse -> low back arches
- Stand with feet just outside shoulder-width -- the classic power stance in athletics
2. The ability to do a lot of good squats when fatigued
- Being able to do 1 squat with good technique, and hold the position, is a necessary starting point
- Being able to do perfect squats sequentially and repetitively will reveal compensatory patterns, motor control issues, and/or endurance limitations as fatigue sets in
- “Understanding the working parts of a good squat and what they feel like will translate to how you monitor your running form.”
Use a Tabata format: Tabata = a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that is performed for 4 minutes
- Work for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, performed 8 times (4 minutes total)
- Make sure you are warmed up before performing the test!
- Only good reps count! (see checklist above in #1)
- Goal is at least 10 good air squats in each 20-second interval
Need help getting into a good squat position? Try these:
STANDARD #5: Hip Flexion
**Question: Can you stand on one leg and raise the opposite knee higher than hip height, and hold for 30 seconds?**
“If you train frequently, run frequently, and/or spend a significant amount of time sitting each day, your tissues can shorten and rob you of a normal degree of hip flexion, which in turn deteriorates your overall hip function. Power loss and the potential for injury go up.”
“Developing and/or maintaining proper hip flexion contributes to the healthy hip function, which will enable you to run with good form and balance and channel power from your posterior chain.”
Research has been mounting for “tracing injuries and excessive pronation to weak, tight hips” since the early 2000’s.
Just because you sit all day in a hip-flexed position does not translate to adequate hip mobility and function. Sitting in a chair translates to roughly 90 degrees of hip flexion, whereas the standard range of motion established by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) is 120 degrees.
“Our bodies tend to mold themselves into the positions in which we spend the most time. So sitting all day will result in mobility restrictions in the hip, including shortness of the hip capsule and the associated tissues of the hip, like the psoas.”
- Stand on one leg with a braced neutral spine and feet straight, pulling one knee to your chest to fully flex the hip
- Rest arms by your side. To pass the test, your knee must break the plane of the top of your hip and achieve a 120-degree angle of flexion, or better.
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat with the other leg for 30 seconds.
- Hip Flexion Test
Need help achieving full hip flexion? Try these:
STANDARD #6: Hip Extension
**Question: Do you have a normal amount of hip extension?**
Meeting this standard means that you have enough range of motion in the front of your hips and thighs so that you can press your hips into full extension, without compensating with low back extension. Taking care of your quads and hip flexors promotes healthy hip extension function.
“A runner who doesn’t take care of business when it comes to poor movement patterns and the consequential shortening of the quadriceps and hip flexors is doing the equivalent of playing gas-brake with a car. Keep one foot on the brake while you jam the other down on the gas pedal, and then, when the RPMs are hot, let go of the brake, sending the car lurching forward like a rocket. Then repeat. Do this long enough and you’ll set the wheels on fire.”
A lot of the blame for knee pain can be attributed to the shortness/tightness of the quads and hip flexors
**Advice for reducing the amount of shortness/tightness in the quads and hip flexors: sit as little as possible**
Need help achieving full hip extension? Try These: