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Pliability For Runners

Author: McConkey J
Category: Sports Rehab
Audience: Consumer
Length: 171 pages
Publisher: Hatherleigh Press
  Year Published: 2022
List Price: $16.95® Rating: Excellent!

Pliability For Runners explains how to treat and prevent running injuries.

Recommended for: Serious distance runners and weekend warriors. Many coaches and athletic trainers will also find this book very useful.


Joseph McConkey, MS is definitely qualified to author this book. His Masters degree is in Exercise Science with a focus on Injury Prevention and Sports Performance. In addition, he holds the highest certifications from both USA Track and Field (Level 3 coach) and the IAAF (Level V coach). He has many years of experience working with runners across the entire spectrum of ability: from beginners all the way up to Olympic-level marathoners. McConkey specializes in diagnosing and correcting asymmetry in a runner's stride to avoid repetitive motion injuries. Currently, he is the director of Boston Running Center's Gait Analysis Lab.


This 171-page book is organized as follows:

Pliability: A Global Challenge: Here, the author introduces how he helped world-class marathoner Kenenisa Bekele deal with injuries. After teaching him how to do "Targeted Self-Massage," Bekele subsequently ran 2:01:41 at the 2019 Berlin Marathon.

Stopping the Injury Cycle: In this chapter, the author explains how an asymmetrical running stride leads to repetitive motion injuries such as iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles' tendonitis, patellofemoral syndrome, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, piriformis syndrome and others. The content is enhanced with numerous black-and-white photos of runners with an asymmetrical running gait.

• What Is Pliability?: This chapter briefly (it's only 4 pages!) explains pliability from a sports medicine / exercise physiology perspective.

• The Science Behind Pliability: This chapter provides additional sports medicine explanation of running injuries and how improved pliability can prevent them. Even though this chapter is titled "The Science Behind...", it is not overly scientific.

• Getting Started: Learn About You: Here, the author instructs runners to stand in front of a mirror and carefully examine their posture. He also recommends doing that while seated, while lying and while walking. Then, examine running stride. He offers a variety of questions to consider: Is one hand coming up higher? Is one foot landing harder? Next is to rate, on a 10-point scale, how much tension exists in running muscles. Last, the author presents how to use a foam roller on glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. A black-and-white photo is shown for each technique.

• Improving Pliability is in Your Hands: Here, the author explains the basics of performing "Targeted Self-Massage." He recommends a "Thera-Cane" and a foam roller.

• Self Tests: Range Of Motion: This chapter and the following one provide "Self-Tests" that athletes can do to determine if they have asymmetry. This chapter is 28 pages and shows an athlete performing Targeted Self-Massage in 14 specific areas. Next, the author shows 15 unique range-of-motion assessments. Black-and-white photos accompany all of the TSM techniques and the ROM tests. This chapter is done well.

• Self Tests: Strength: This chapter is similar to the previous one. Here, the author shows 20 different assessments an athlete can do to detect asymmetry in muscle strength. This chapter is also done well.

• Final Checklist: This short chapter provides 4 tables that athletes could photocopy and use as they perform the Range-of-Motion and Strength Self-Tests.

• 10-Week Programs for Returning to Running: This short chapter provides training programs for Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced runners. A lot of useful information is provided in 3 pages.

• FAQs: This section provides answers to 11 common questions.

• Pliability Programs for Specific Athletes: Pages 133-157 represent the core material: how to perform Targeted Self-Massage. This content is provided for 4 types of athletes: Junior Athletes, Explosive Sport Athletes, Job-Based Running Requirements, and Master Runners. For each group, specific techniques are recommended and for each one a black-and-white photo is provided. These pages are also formatted so that athletes could photocopy them.

• Final Thoughts: A Coach's Perspective: This is an interesting perspective from the author. It is written well. Though, it might be better to present it at the beginning of the book.

Other details:

Photos & Illustrations: There are dozens of black-and-white photos in this book. Though the photos are small, they are effective and enhance the text.

Tables & Graphs: Numerous tables are provided. As mentioned above, athletes could photocopy them to make notes on them. There are no Graphs.

Documentation / Accuracy: This book is based on the extensive experience of the author from working with runners of all levels. Not to be overlooked, there are 56 scientific citations listed at the end.

Index: There is no Index, but that's not a deficit. This book is only 171 pages and it's very easy to find the section(s) you are looking for.

What I Liked About This Book:

It's succinct. The author doesn't over-explain concepts, and, doesn't make claims that make no sense. The content delivers what the title suggests. The photos enhance the text.

What Could Be Better:

There's really nothing here to criticize. If one wanted to be really picky, some of the photos could be larger. Some are small and under-exposed.


Pliability For Runners checks all the boxes: It provides excellent, evidence-based content and recommendations, it delivers that content succinctly and clearly, and the photos and tables support the written content perfectly. In short, the book delivers exactly what the title suggests. All runners will find this book not only easy to use, but, also it may help them recover from and prevent injuries.


Pilates For Athletes (2021) by Sean Vigue is an excellent Pilates resource.

Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 6/12/2022 2:15:12 PM

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