The other day we’ve got an email asking us to cover mobility essentials. Since you loved the warmup essentials video article we’ve posted a while back, I decided to put together a bare minimum mobility routine every OCR athlete should be doing weekly.
Mobility and strength training are the two key components that separate unbreakable athletes from weekend warriors, who seem to collect a wide range of injuries. Latter is the opposite of improvement and progress, thus a decision to better yourself in a sustainable way is easy to make.
Fact is, too many of us address tight muscles and muscular imbalances when it’s way too late. I’m more than guilty with this myself – mobility can be excruciating and boring, it also can feel like a waste of time, when you can use that 45min slot to go for a run, right?
Overtime the niggles we ignore become injuries. At this point we have no other choice but to address them with plenty of rest and mobility. Meaning no more exciting workouts and challenges.
Solution: regular weekly mobility session with 30-45mins of flossing, rolling and smashing. Think of it as an investment and a necessary evil (just like warmup and boring cooldown drills).
Instead of boring you to death by preaching why it’s so important, here’s a basic mobility protocol you can do in order to prevent injuries.
- Foam roller. Any sturdy roll will do. I use Hyperice Viper (will review shortly) – a chargeable and vibrating roller. It’s intense, yet effective.
- Elastic fitness band – any will do as long as it’s a long one. I use an assisted pullupb and because of it’s sturdiness.
- Lacrosse ball.
- Softball or a bigger ball aka ‘Avocado’. This is an optional addition, however is perfect to target trigger points around IT band (see video below).
Here’s a demo:
Before you start, remember to roll slow until you find tight and painful spots. Don’t waste your time rolling on other spots that feel good. However know when to stop too. If the pain is too intense you might be either doing it wrong or targeting an inflamed and damaged tissue. In this case ease in and mobilise around it. This will reduce the tightness around inflamed area and result myofascial release.
- Hamstring roll and smash. Biggest bang for the buck: I create elevation using yoga pads and allow gravity to do the job. This without trying too hard rolls out even the deepest lying knots. If you don’t have yoga pads lying around – any elevated surface will do.
- Hip flexor smash. Go easy on this one. Gradually apply the pressure on tight and painful spots and shift your body side to side. This is especially useful for cycling enthusiasts who spend hours in locked up position, creating puss pockets and adhesions in the flexor region.
- Thigh rolling. Add some smashing by shifting bodyweight and targeting sides of your thighs.
- Glute rolling. Time to relax that booty.
- Calf rolling. Athletes tend to put one leg on top of the other to roll out their calves, but I find it unnecessary. As with hamstring rolls, I’m using an elevation to add more pressure and reach deep tissues without overdoing.
- Calf smash. This is the most effective way to address calf adhesions. Lay on your back, put a lacrosse ball between your thigh and calf and apply pressure with your hands. Hold for some time, change balls position until you have covered all calf region.
- Foot smash. This is the easiest part of the routine. Simply work your way around your foot to find and relieve any knots. Along with calf work this is also one of the best ways to avoid plantar fasciitis – a way too common running injury.
- IT band floss with Avocado. People tend to apply pressure with foam rollers directly on the IT band. I think this is nonsensical. IT band doesn’t need a direct stretch, the tissues around it, like quads and hamstring do. Majority of IT band issues begin when those tissues knot up and cannot glide on top of one another. This then causes friction and thus you end up with IT band inflammation. To do this right floss and smash everywhere around IT band.
- Fitness band stretch for IT band, hamstrings and hips. I perform this stretch after every single run. Do it with caution though: you don’t want to hold it for too long, also make sure to shift positions gradually.
That’s about it.
Now it’s the time for you to add this or modified mobility day to your weekly routine. You can add other moves, such as yoga, active strength training etc. The key here is to approach this routine as a regular maintenance for your body.
Trust me, spending 45mins once a week is nothing compared to dealing with nagging injuries.
P.S. Pt2 for upper body coming soon.