I recently got an email from Bob Pritchard of the Somax Performance Institute about his analysis of stride angle of runners. His theory is that the greater a runner’s stride angle (the maximum angle that a runners thighs make when viewed from the side at full stride), the faster the runner.
Since stride rate is normally a constant and a stride rate of about 180 strides per minute has been found to be optimal for running efficiency, an increase in stride angle should result in greater running speed for a given runner.
The Somax Performance Institute works with runners and other athletes to increase the flexibility of the their hips through microfiber reduction. They claim that runners have cut a minute per mile off of their running pace as a result of the microfiber reduction program.
Unfortunately, the minimum 30 hour Level I program at the Somax Performance Institute requires you to travel to California for at least 5 days, and costs over $10,000 ($350/hour). Not something that most of us can afford to do.
If you think your hip flexibility might be limiting your running speed and efficiency, you might consider some other options, like self myofascial release (SMT) using a foam roll. Muscle fascia covers all our muscles. Sometimes tightness in the muscle fascia can restrict movement. Here’s a video from Core Performance showing how to use a foam roll on your hips.
You might want to combine your work with the foam roll with some lunges to stretch your hip flexors. Here’s another video from Core Performance to demonstrate.
Be careful and don’t overdo it. It’s relatively easy to strain your hip flexors. Let me know how you do with increasing your hip flexibility and your stride angle in the comments.