Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crossfit Mobility and Strength = Better running form and faster race times

     A week after running the Boston Marathon last year I developed knee pain and could not run more than 3 miles. While searching the Internet for ways to get rid of my knee pain I came across this site  This guy, Kelly Starlett, had some very interesting information. I saw that it was also a part of Crossfit. Even though I had never done Crossfit I was not running so I thought it might be a good idea to try it. I have heard people both criticize it and rave about it but I did not feel I could place any judgment without giving it a try. I went to Crossfit Glen Ellyn and I felt like I had my own personal trainer. They modified the moves and made me feel very welcome. I did not feel out of place at all. After the workout I started talking to one of the owners and told him about the amazing website I found. He told me one of his instructors, Dustin Dieter, was trained by Kelly Starlett and is very knowledgeable in mobility/injury prevention. I decided to give it a try and set up a time to meet with Dustin.
     During our session I realized how bad my flexibility really was. Dustin gave me three exercises to do. They were the Couch, Hip Floss and Hamstring Floss. I did those three times that day. The next morning I decided to go out and run and see what happens. I was prepared for my knee to hurt at mile 3. I saw three miles on my watch and no pain. I continued on to mile 4,5 and 6 with no pain. I stopped because I did not want to push my luck. I was so happy I was crying! I continued with the exercise routine Dustin gave me and started running everyday. I was also meeting with Dan Albright who is now my coach for other strength exercises. Dan has also helped me stay injury free and get stronger.
     After doing these three exercises and meeting with Dustin for a few weeks I noticed something felt very different with my running. My stride was longer, smoother and more efficient. Everything seemed to flow. I decided to experiment and did not do the exercises for a few days and I noticed my form did not feel as smooth. It was then that I knew I was on to something new and exciting that would change me as a runner. In the past I was working with a multi-joint strength coach in Arlington Heights. She helped me out a lot and I got stronger but I did not feel my form changed. A component was missing in the training she was giving me: the mobility. I also saw that Crossfit was using the same squat that I was taught.  There are so many more mobility exercises out there that can help your form. I feel a runner will have the same experience I did if they find their mobility weakness.  All of us have certain places that are locked up and tight. If you are able to locate where that is you will open up your new running potential.
     Because of this experience I learned that things happen for a reason. You need to look at everything with an open mind and do not judge based on what others have said. Go experience and try it out for yourself. I would like to challenge you to do these three mobility drills. Before you start the drills run in place and see how your legs feel. Then do the mobility exercises and run in place again. See if you notice a difference. Do these mobility exeercises before and after you run. After a week I would like to know if you notice a difference in your form and how you feel when you run. I am looking forward to hearing from any runners who try this out.


This shows the couch and hip.

This shows the hamstring and hip.

1 comment:

  1. Your comment that all runners have places that are locked up and tight couldn't be more true. I took up running in 1988 but by 1994 medical and injury issues put me on the sidlines until late 1997. One of the first things I did when I got back to running with my old training partners was to meet with one of them and work up a plan on improving my flexibility. In my case it was a program of active/isolated stretching that my friend taught me and had been teaching to various corporate groups in Atlanta where we lived. I also included some upper and lower body and core weight work. I wanted the flexibility and range of motion that would help me be a better runner. Crossfit is another excellent program in helping runners with the overall level of running mobility and fitness. Running is not just about getting out to run. We improve and reduce the chance of injury by doing other training that augments our running. When you run you just don't use you legs - your whole body is involved.