3 Simple Tests to Improve Your Running

With only three days to go to the Tullamore Half Marathon, I’m going to explain three simple self tests that you can try at home to see just how you're moving. These tests are directly related to your running posture and it will indicate if you have the correct posture to perform (P2P).

Test 1: Ankle Movement - Knee to Wall:

Ankle movement is very important for running and field sports. The most common injuries with long distance runners are usually based from the knee down, these injuries are all directly related to ankle mobility. A common thing we find in clinic is that one ankle might have better movement than the other and this should be corrected to improve this problem.

This test is very simple. All you need is a piece of tape (white tape or insulated colour tape). KEY TEST FOR ACHILLES, HEEL, FOOT PAIN.

  1. With your right knee on the ground place your left foot flat on the floor and toe touching the wall.

  2. See can you bring the left knee to touch the wall

  3. Check the other side.

  4. See if you can then bring your foot one step away from the wall and repeat as above on right and left.

  5. Place the tape in front of the big toe as a marker.

  6. Compare the difference to see which ankle has better range of movement.

Test 2: Hip Extension and Drop Test:

As discussed in previous blogs, hip extension is a very important aspect of running. This is the ability to fluidly bring one leg behind the other without restriction. Most athletes we see in clinic don’t have a proper hip extension and this is paramount to improving your running. People that fail the hip extension test are generally people that complain of KNEE, HIP AND IT BAND PAIN.

If you are one of these people you need to see if you can pass this test:

  1. Lying on your right side with the knees and hips bent to 90 degrees.

  2. Make sure your right shoulder is ahead of the hips so as to stop the lower back from arching.

  3. Start by lifting your leg up and back so that your leg is inline with your shoulder and hip.

  4. Then try and drop your knee to the bed.

  5. Repeat this test on the opposite side.

  6. If you are unable to bring the knee back inline with the shoulder, then it's a fail. If you are unable to let the knee drop it’s also a fail.

Starting Position

Starting Position

Hip Extension

Hip Extension

Hip extension + knee dropping to the matt  

Hip extension + knee dropping to the matt  

Failed test

Failed test

Test 3: Step Hold Breath Test:

This is very simply a breathing test that sees how long you can hold a diaphragm contraction for? In this exercise we see how many steps you can take whilst holding your breath.

People that need to do this test are people diagnosed with asthma, asthma or someone who starts off a race fine and develops pain throughout their run.

If you can't have a good ability to control your breath, well you can't control your body.

  1. In a standing position.

  2. Breathe in through your nose.

  3. Fully breathe out through your nose.

  4. Pinch your nose and walk DON'T BREATHE THROUGH YOUR MOUTH.

  5. Walk a normal pace (DON'T RUN).

  6. Count the steps you’ve taken.

  7. Repeat three times and write down your score.

  • 0 - 20 - chronic pain clients, asthma sufferers.
  • 20 - 40 pass.

  • 40 - 80 good.

  • 80 - 90 elite level.

The step hold breath is a very good indication of where you can improve with your running. If you are running four times a week but score a 20 then this should be your first priority to improve.

The most important thing is that these are simple tests, that can tell you a lot about what posture you are in. If you don't pass all the tests don't worry about it we are trying to get people to optimum performance and these are tests to show you what we look for. Most people fail one or two of the test but the elite level athletes pass them all.

This posture can be changed and it will definitely improve your performance beyond all other methods. Get rid of any roadblocks that you have now and you will have a clear path to your goals.

Also if anyone doesn't pass the tests and wonder how they can improve their tests results, please feel free to ask us any questions at tommy@tcphysiotherapy.com

chat with us at the Tullamore Harriers on Saturday, 27th August. We’ll be at the finish line offering free massages pre and post race. Best of luck?

Tommy ConwayComment