The Definition of Ultra Running is anything longer than the standard marathon (26.2 miles). Often times Ultras are held in remote places in the mountains on technical trails giving you plenty of peace and quiet to think of all the reasons not to sign up for the next event. The terrain and the sheer volume of running will often lead to overuse injuries if improper movement is left unchecked.
Typical Movement issues:
- Inability to reach full hip extension
- Inability to dorsiflex ankle
- Inability to flex the Hallux (big toe)
- Stress Fracture of the Tibia or Hip
- Achilles Tendinopathy
- Pattelofemoral Femoral Pain Syndrome
- IT band Friction Syndrome
Interestingly, many of the common injuries can be prevented by fixing the underlying movement issues. Early identification of problem areas and movement correction is key to keeping a runner healthy, and a healthy runner will always reach higher levels of performance. Normally during run warm ups I will have athletes do soft tissue mobility work to help with ankle dorsiflexion and have them do some quick foot and ankle drills to achieve proper activation before running. A runners strength plan will usually include some variation of hip hinge along with a movement that focuses on triple extension. These movements ensure the posterior chain is strong and the athlete is able to reach full hip extension during their run gait.
Each ultra runner has their own list of problem areas as they start to increase volume or intensity. The goal is to find the athletes movement limitations and fix them in the off season. Once they start preparation for an event they can stay injury free and breakthrough to new levels of performance they only dreamed of in the past.