3 Must-Do Active Isolated Flexibility Routines for Runners

Active Isolated Flexibility for the Foot and Ankle

On of my favorite moments at the Boulder Running Camps, summer running camps for high school kids located at the University of Colorado at Boulder, is when I have the athletes complete Phil's entire foot and ankle routine on just one foot. Then I ask them to stand up and walk around a bit. They are blown away by how good the foot they just worked on feels, and at how bad and "jammed up" the other foot feels. No need to sell them on the importance AIF for the foot and ankle—they're believers after that moment.

Try Phil's foot and ankle routine on one foot, then stand up and see if you notice a difference in both feet and ankles.

It's so easy to ignore the feet because most runners think about stretching the large muscle groups. But the foot and ankle routine is a must do, not a "nice to do," and you should put it on your weekly schedule two or three times.

More: 5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Feet and Ankles

Active Isolated Flexibility for the Abductors and Adductors

The abductors and adductors are often overlooked muscle groups, but they're important for runners. Eventually, you should work on strengthening these muscles, but first you need to lengthen them to get them functioning properly. Let's watch Phil take us through these two exercises.

Flexibility is different from day to day, and it's different on each side of the body. So don't get frustrated if you feel tight during your first couple of minutes of AIF, and don't get worry if one side is tighter than the other. This information probably means that you need another easy day or two of running, but if you can see a soft tissue specialist to figure out the root cause of the imbalance, that's even better.

I strongly believe that runners need to do general strength and mobility every day. AIF can be used as a precursor to starting a general strength and mobility program. Ideally, you would do AIF after every run or before bed each night. It's a big commitment, but it's the type of commitment that can lead to weeks, months and even years of injury-free running. Think of it this way: How miserable are you when you are injured? Right, you're a mess. Now ask yourself, "Can I find 10 minutes a day to do AIF so that I don't have to go through one of those miserable patches of not running?"

More: How to Balance Running and Strength Training to Avoid Injury

The clips featured in this article were adapted from the Wharton Exercises for Runners video series featuring Phil Wharton and produced by Jay Johnson. Check out the full-length videos.

More: Active Isolated Stretching Exercises for Runners

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About the Author

Jay Johnson

Coach Jay Johnson works with runners of all ages and abilities. A former collegiate coach at the University of Colorado, he's coached U.S. national champions, adult and high school runners. He coaches athletes via RunnersConnect.net, where you can sign up for Jay's individualized training. Visit his blog, coachjayjohnson.com, where you can join Jay's email list to receive exclusive videos and articles. You can follow him on Twitter @coachjayjohnson, message him on Facebook, or find him on Google+.
Coach Jay Johnson works with runners of all ages and abilities. A former collegiate coach at the University of Colorado, he's coached U.S. national champions, adult and high school runners. He coaches athletes via RunnersConnect.net, where you can sign up for Jay's individualized training. Visit his blog, coachjayjohnson.com, where you can join Jay's email list to receive exclusive videos and articles. You can follow him on Twitter @coachjayjohnson, message him on Facebook, or find him on Google+.

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