testing flexibility 

Video Series Overview:

Welcome! I’m very glad you’re here!

So, what is this video series all about?  Simply put, in this video series we’ll look at and assess run-specific passive flexibility, to get a good idea of our run-specific tissue balance.   

Now, you might be wondering, “what do I mean by passive?” Well, I’m glad you asked.  😊 Passive simply means the flexibility you can demonstrate on your own, without outside assistance or muscle force to help you.

Before going on, let’s first define what flexibility is:

Flexibility is the ability to passively achieve a range of motion. It’s being capable of being stretched or bent without breaking. It’s being able to modify or adapt. The key word here we want to remember, is passive.

Think of being on a table and having a massage therapist or someone else, pick up your leg and move it through a certain range of motion.  To contrast, think of sitting “passively” in a stretched position in yoga class. You’re sitting deeper, relaxing “into” the stretch. All of it, for the most part, is passive.

Mobility, on the other hand…is very different. Mobility is freedom of motion first and foremost, but for our purposes, it’s more than that.

In fact, for our purposes, we should think of the two-word phrase, “Functional Mobility.” Because that’s the key. That is, the ability to actively achieve a range of motion. In other words…

Mobility = flexibility + strength / control.

Functional mobility is the ability to actively achieve a range of motion.

 What is our goal right now?

What we’re most concerned with in terms of seeing where we are and what we would need to address, is passive flexibility.


Before we get too much further in our discussion of passive vs. active flexibility….don’t we need to ask a basic question, first?

Should we stretch?

This is a question I’ve been asked a thousand times. It’s usually asked when someone is struggling with a niggle or a little “tweak” – or in some cases, when a full-blown injury rears its head.

Let me ask you: have you ever felt a strain in a muscle like the hamstring or calf while out on a run, and then stopped momentarily to “stretch it out?” That’s a very common response – and ironically, it’s also often what our mind tells us is smart.

But in reality, it’s very often one of the worst things we could do at that moment. The reason is, when a muscle or other connective tissue like a ligament or tendon is strained and lets you know it because of the pain, it’s a sign the area is compromised. Pulling on and stretching out an area that is compromised is adding insult to injury, so to speak. The right response is to stop immediately and take as much pressure as you can off the area. The sooner you can do that, the sooner the healing process can begin.

So, to be honest, the question of whether we “should” stretch or not, isn’t the right question to ask.

The right question should be something like: What areas or parts of our body would benefit from becoming more flexible?  

That’s a completely different way to look at it because it leads to other important questions.

Another good question worth asking is: what do we need to do to achieve better tissue/body balance?

 Before we can have the answer to the question, we need to ask the right question.  

It isn’t one-size-fits-all.

Think about this…

True statement: If we are all unique and built a little bit differently and have a unique training and life history and a lifestyle that is entirely our own, then why on earth would we think that we could answer the question, “should we stretch,” with a one-size fits all answer?

We can’t.

We’re all unique. Therefore, what we might need to stretch and how much, is unique for each of us.

This then begs the question…


What’s our goal?

What IS the goal of stretching anyway? I believe that’s one of those very good questions to ask. If we’re going to do it, then at the very least, we ought to know where it is we are going with it, right? Where are we heading, and why?

Let’s start with that question: what is our goal when we stretch?


Three potential benefits (there may be more)


I see three obvious potential benefits to stretching any part of our body, depending on the individual person.

The first is simple: to feel better. Sometimes stretching just feels good. That does not mean that it’s always good for us, especially long term, but you know, sometimes it just feels good…

The second reason would be to counteract some of the inherent tightness that might develop because of our lifestyle or sports.  Some classic examples of this might be…

  • Stretching out some “tightness” or “shortness” in the calf or hamstring muscle groups (otherwise known as the “posterior chain”) that would result from an increasing higher volume of faster paced running. If you’ve bumped up your mileage recently or increased the percentage of faster running, you know exactly what I’m talking about – you feel it in your hamstrings.

  • Stretching out the quadriceps and other anterior hip flexor muscles in response to an increasing number of miles in the saddle. Or similarly, in a chair at our desks or from long hours of driving.

The point here is that there is often a natural (arguably less-than-desirable) shortening and thus tightening of certain areas of the body because of chronic or acute over-use.

This is especially apparent with activities that are very repetitive like running or cycling. By repetitive, I simply mean that you’re basically using the same muscles in the same patterns repeatedly, with very little variation. For these sports, we’re talking about thousands of revolutions over a short period of time. It adds up!

What about the third reason?

The last and arguably most important reason that anyone might want to stretch is to improve tissue (or body) balance.

By balance, I don’t mean standing on a bosu ball with your eyes closed and not crashing to the floor. 😊 I’m referring to a balance of tissue lengths – front and back, side to side, inside and outside.

When imbalances in tissue length exist, certain areas get overused and others get underused. The imbalances, if left untreated, become habituated – a new and different way to move, if you will.

Here’s a classic example: look at the picture to the left.

You sure as heck don’t want to end up looking like THAT, do you? No way.

So, follow me here for a minute – think of some of your daily activities – things like looking at your smartphone or staring into the computer or reaching into a cabinet for something to eat. You know, repeatedly reaching in front of your body, leaning forward, but conversely, rarely reaching behind your body or back for something.

Over time, what can happen?

The muscles that are overused in the front can become gradually tighter and shorter, while the muscles in the back become lengthened, and potentially weaker as well.

This isn’t necessarily about saying one posture is better than another, but it is acknowledging that with an imbalance like this, the risk of problems down the road is increased. So, here’s a situation where stretching the front of the body while strengthening the back is the exact kind of thing you want to do.

Of course, it so happens that two extremely important exercises for accomplishing these tasks are included in the program, RESTORE- The Foundation: The Wall Slide and Chin Tuck exercises.  😊

In my experience, it is these imbalances that most often manifest themselves when we get injured, and not surprisingly, can dramatically increase our risk of injury.

Hence, why I made this area of the website available to you…

What to do?

In summary, my point in sharing the above is to state what I hope is now obvious: flexibility and stretching isn’t a one-size fits all kind of thing. Sure, we can stretch to feel good, but if we truly want to address imbalances and give our stretching program the meat it needs to bring about true change, we need to be targeted in what we do and how we do it.

We need to know WHAT areas are most important to lengthen for us – not for someone else, but for us individually.

six videos to help you assess your tissue balance

Here in this area of the Pursuit Athletic Performance website, you’ll find FIVE videos to guide you. You’ve no doubt seen the menu to the left with each of the videos listed. 

My goal in presenting these to you, was to help YOU determine whether you have a tissue imbalance in any of the major muscle groups most common for runners, that just might benefit if it was addressed.

The major muscle groups I cover are:

  • The hamstrings

  • The calves

  • The hip rotators in 90 / 90 position

  • The piriformis and it’s relationship to hip rotation

  • The anterior hip / hip flexors

  • The inner hip or groin

If you find an imbalance exists, make sure you start with the movements within RESTORE: The Foundation and then check out RESTORE: The Hips Program-Mobility.

Why start with the Foundation?

There’s no better place to start than with these three R&F circuits, which address joint range of motion, core and hip stability and basic balance through the body. The previously mentioned Wall Slides and Chin Tucks being two examples.

The other thing you can do immediately is use the guidance within the video to begin to actively improve range of motion.

You’re always welcome to get in touch with me if I can help!

Use Caution. Train smart.

Please!! Use caution and prioritize self-care and self-monitoring when attempting any of these stretching exercises/assessments. Ease into and out of each of these positions slowly and carefully, especially if your body is feeling at all tight, is cold, or if you haven’t been active right beforehand. Less is always more. Err on the side of caution. Train smart – be smart!

Also, don’t be hesitant to use a device such as a yoga block or blankets when necessary to provide support for your knee joints and other potentially at-risk areas of your body. Stay on the safe side for long-term success.   

Be sure to use caution when getting into our out of any of these movements. Train smart and keep it fun!