Mobility and Injury

old man stretch


sit and reach






One of these pictures is not like the other. It is not like the others for two reason. Can you guess? Of course you can. If you said the gentleman in the middle for the two reasons of being older and more flexible , your are correct!

Last Thursday, Brian Scheuter from St. Vincent Sports performance came in and did some injury assessments for the Phoenix crew. His discussions almost never happen without the mention of a lack of mobility as a primary cause of an injury and usually the first line of attack to solving the problem.

The broken record that we all play in our heads is that we know that we should stretch and take care of our bodies. We know that strength training will help us be better runners and triathletes. We read 5 Facebook posts per day about the 8 best core exercises and the 5 critical stretches for every runner. If you have been to a Physical Therapist, you have a file full of exercises that have been prescribed to you. And yet, we all know countless stories of missed training and races due to getting derailed because of injury.

In a nut shell, stretching and getting your body to move well isn’t sexy. As runners, we can stand around all day and gain appreciation for your 800 meter split times during your Yassos. We can Facebook till we are blue in the face about our race time and place and get bunches of likes in validation. But sitting around over a beer with your training friends and discussing how you completely nailed the workout of 4 X calf stretch for 30 seconds each and ramped right into 4 X soleus stretch for another round with no rest just won’t get the “oohs” and “aahs” that you are expecting. Stretching makes for bad story telling.

Quite the opposite happens. The only time that flexibility makes the front of the conversation is when people talk about how bad they are at it. It has become a bizarre badge of honor and the makings of a co-dependent relationship. Brag about how inflexible you are, go out and run devastatingly hard workouts that make your body move with dramatic compensation, get hurt, fall into a deep depression because you can’t exercise, heal and repeat the process.

As we age, losing mobility and muscle mass is a part of the process for many. The number one reason for a decrease in running pace as we get older isn’t fitness, but it is from a decrease in stride length.

The analogy that comes to mind is that of the original owner of a 1985 muscle car. They have countless great memories from when the car was new, fast and gleaming with it’s high gloss finish. The owner that I imagine has taken very good care of the engine to try and keep it as fast as the day they got it. Today, this person will often roll up to a stop light and the engine will growl as it did so many years ago when they were the talk of the town, but today the neglected body is rusty and dull. It has body panels of different colors and pock marked chrome bumpers. The attitude of the driver and the sound of the engine no longer match the outward appearance and the quality of the chassis. The man is obviously living in the glory day and has failed to grasp the disconnect to his current reality.

Joe Friel has just written a book about the aging athlete and what to do to avoid following the all too common path to a drastic decrease in performance. I look forward to reading it and gleaning the wisdom that he has gained.

Be a complete athlete. Do what it takes to make sure that you are ready to be a part of the lifestyle that you so dearly love. Not as a 19 year old would do, but as a masters athlete with all of the unique limitations that come with your age.

Heather and I both offer free functional movement screenings to help assess where your body may be compensating for faulty movement patterns. Contact us if you are interested in finding out where to work on better mobility as you move forward with whatever race or non-race fitness goal you are pursuing.

Unlimited Group fitness members and Personal Training members, don’t forget that you also have access to all the run training sessions. Do something different and come out for one of these runs this week if you have not yet! We have all levels of paces in the group. You will fall right into stride with us.