The inspiration always comes from you.
And other runners just like you.
These stories are yours.
Your stories lead me into your lives, invite me on your runs, and I share in your pain and frustration. I feel those miles in your shoes. And your commitment to the run and to yourselves leads me to action.
And the result and product of that action was the creation of my hip mobility guide made specifically for runners.
Can I tell you the stories that inspired me?
Let me tell you about Gabbie.
An 18 year old high school grad, she was getting ready for college and she came in to her first physical therapy visit beaten down and frustrated. She said she was already feeling burned out from cross country and track. She wasn't sure if she ever wanted to run again. She was healing from a stress fracture in one of her left lower leg bones; I couldn't blame her. Stress fractures are sneaky; a lot of runners have them without even knowing it and continue run on them for months before getting them looked at. And when they finally do, it's discouraging to hear just how much time they take to heal.
So I reassured her. It was ok to take a break from running. It was ok to be uncertain and to have fallen out of love with running. What was important now was getting her better. And if she wanted to, we could gently ease her back into running when she was ready. When her body was healed and ready.
She agreed to that plan.
Her possible return to running goal? Work back up 30miles a week, running at her normal 6:30-7min pace. (Yup, she's a speedy one.)
What stood out from her physical therapy evaluation was what we call her multisegmental rotation. It's a fancy way of saying her full body rotation. To give you an idea: I have the patient stand with their feet together, facing away from me and they simply turn as far as they can to the right, and then as far as they can to the left. I noticed with Gabbie and a lot of other runners, that she wasn't rotating or turning the same through her R hip as she was her left hip.
So we started there with hip mobility.
We dove into restoring that equal rotation motion in both hip joints, progressing to activating all the muscles around those hip joints to help her keep that new motion. It was exciting, amazing, at times frustrating, but so rewarding when she came in 2 week after starting and said with conviction and a joyful light in her eyes, "I want to run again! I want to do this!"
Music to my ears, girlfriend.
So we launched into teaching her body how to use that new motion and muscle activation while she was running. She was ecstatic when I told her she could start running again. For the girl who wasn't sure she ever wanted to run again, she was slightly disappointed at the very low weekly mileage and a slow, easy pace I started her on. But it was all to help that stress fracture continue to heal.
But it was beautiful to watch her learn to savor the run again. With a short leash of half a mile, to 1 mile, to 1.5miles, she enjoyed every stride, every footfall at the slow 9 to 8 to 7:45 minute pace. She learned not only how to appreciate the time on her feet, but to feel the movement, feel the run. She responded beautifully.
The final step to her journey?
We made her strong. Together, we created personalized workout circuits for her specific mobility needs and strength routines to ensure her legs could handle her increasing mileage. And finally, the day came for her to be done with physical therapy. By then, she was bubbly, overflowing with gratitude, and excited to tackle her increasing weekly mileage goal and return to her speedy pace.
Then there was Dylan.
He was a 20 year old college cross country runner. He came into the clinic with a stress fracture in one femur and an upcoming case of burn out.
I sat there with my mouth hanging open (behind my mask) as he told his story. Due to the condensed sports schedule because of the pandemic, his cross country and track team had been running their make-up winter 2020 and 2021 spring and summer meets and appropriate training programs back to back to back…
Dylan went on to describe how he was one of the lucky few who was able to consistently race in his meets, up until now that is. The entire team was suffering from assorted injuries, on top of burn out. This left maybe 9 guys total who were "uninjured", meaning they felt well enough to run, but weren't 100% ok.
He told me he and his teammates kept training between the condensed seasons without any real recovery time or decrease in mileage or intensity. In fact, they just increased their mileage by 10miles in just the span of 1 week when he was finally sidelined.
I dove a little deeper and asked Dylan what running meant to him.
He told me confidently he loved it. He was one of the fastest guys on the team and so proud of it! He worked so hard for it and it was frustrated that his body had seemed to fail him. I told him, none of this is your fault. In fact, he had a distinct advantage that had kept him running for so long. He lifted, man…he came into the clinic "strong like bull" and the most built collegiate runner I've ever seen.
So how did he develop a stress fracture in his right femur?
It wasn't because he was weak.
Was it partly due to the crazy amount of mileage and speed work he was doing?
But the key piece was, I saw a similar hip mobility deficit with Dylan as I did Abbie.
We worked together just a handful of visits. During that time, we were laser-focused on restoring hip mobility and activating his glutes a little bit more. Because he was already so strong, we spent time working on movements very specific to running and tailored exactly to what he needed. I managed to talk him down from running his average 5:30 mile/min pace to an 8 mile/min pace for about 1-2 weeks, just to keep him running, but still allowing the stress fracture to heal. By the end of our time together, he was as strong as ever, and chomping at the bit to get back to running at his speed-demon pace.
So there you have it, fit fam.
These two young runners are the behind the scenes look into how I made the hip mobility program.
YOU are the reason I did it though.
I could help Abbie and Dylan directly, in the clinic. I don't have the same opportunity to reach out and ask you, "How are you?". The mobility program is my way of doing that.
Because I want you to run with the same spark of joy in your eyes as Abbie did and I want to you reach your own speed-demon pace like Dylan did.
Run strong, fit fam.
Marie Whitt //@dr.whitt.fit
P.S Want to take a look at The Ultimate Mobility Guide for Runners: Hip Edition ?