Your Kinetic Chain is the key to healthy running. To improve your speed, it’s important to know what your Kinetic Chain is and how to strengthen it.

So first, what is the Kinetic Chain?
The Kinetic Chain consists of the nerves, bones, and the muscles in your body. The Kinetic Chain runs throughout your body and is a highly functional system of interconnectivity that produces movement.

The Kinetic Chain asks us to examine and to look at movement as a fully integrated system:

  • Nerves: Serve as the communication network in the body
  • Bones: Provide the structure
  • Muscles: Supply the strength to move the skeleton — and this is what we’re focused on today. The muscles act as a “scaffolding” around the bones. The stronger the scaffolding, the less the load any particular piece.

Which muscles in the Kinetic Chain are used while running?
While you really use many muscles in your body to run — including your core and arms — for this article, we will focus on the primary muscles of the lower body.

Posterior (Backside)

  • Hamstring Group
  • Gastrocnemius (calf)
  • Soleus

Anterior (Frontside)

  • Hip Flexors
  • Quadriceps
  • Anterior Tibialis

Medial (Inside)

  • Adductors

Lateral (Outside)

  • Iliotibial band
  • Peroneus

OK, that’s all very interesting and all, but how can I improve my running speed?
Thinking back to the role of the muscles in moving your body… it will come as no surprise to you that the stronger the scaffolding (muscles), the better and faster you can move.

So how do you keep your scaffolding healthy and strong?
Here are several proven ways to keep your muscles healthy and strong:

Foam Rolling
Keeps your muscles flexible. The roller encourages dynamic stretching and breaks down hypertonic muscles to aid in recovery.

Keeps your muscles healthy. The most common injuries seen in experienced runners are muscle knots or “trigger points.” These injuries start as very minor micro-tears. Next, a repetitive tear-and-repair cycle causes a knot (AKA a trigger point) to develop. The runner then starts to experience pain and stiffness in the area. The roller effectively melts away trigger points, allowing the muscle fiber to heal from the demands of running.

Preventive Strength Training
Well, yes, strength training helps to prevent injuries. But it also helps you run faster. Long and lean muscles increase speed and endurance.

Cross Training
Cross training is an effective way to increase muscle response. This will increase your speed and endurance.

REM sleep is vital to healthy living, preparation, and recovery in our physical health. We must rest to build strength.

So, just in case there’s any question at this point, I highly recommend buying a foam roller and developing a regular routine with it. You can work wonders in mere minutes if you use the roller properly and regularly.

But don’t take just my word for it! In the words of Dr. Metzl, a New York City based sports medicine physician and accomplished marathoner: “Dude, go out and get yourself a foam roller … And use it every day.”

Watch Dr. Metzl discuss the Kinetic Chain and the importance of keeping it healthy →