Common Questions About Mobility Training
New to the world of mobility training? Not sure what it is and how it can help you?
Well you are in the right place! Scroll down to learn all about mobility training and how to use it to reach your strength and mobility goals.
Here are the most common questions I'm asked.
WHAT IS MOBILITY TRAINING?
Mobility training is joint training.
We use it to develop control, build strength and increase range of motion within your joints, so they stay healthy and move the way they were meant to.
Just like strength training builds muscle and conditioning strengthens the cardiovascular system, mobility training strengthens the joints.
Everything starts and ends at your joints.
When your joints work their best, pain and injury goes away, sports performance improves and future injury is mitigated.
This is the piece to the injury and performance puzzle few are exploring.
HOW PROBLEMS START & HOW TO MAKE THEM GO AWAY
You first need to understand that your nervous system is the one calling the shots. It controls all of our movement and pain responses, and all of your body’s protective mechanisms. Anything you want to do requires the “ok” from this guy.
If a joint doesn’t work properly or is weak, you might not even notice there’s a problem at first but your nervous system will. It’s always there trying to protect you when it doesn’t feel safe with you going in a position that requires that particular joint.
This protection comes in the form of things like knots, spasms or tightness that leads to aches and pains. Or it will restrict your movement which limits your sports performance and can create training plateaus.
So how do we get these problems to go away?
It’s by using mobility training to develop strength and control in your movement at the joint level.
When this happens, your nervous system begins to trust you and feel safe. Before you know it, your issues become a thing of the past.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOBILITY & FLEXIBILITY
Those just starting out usually want to know the difference between mobility and flexibility and I totally get it.
These phrases are often used interchangeably as if they’re the same, but I can assure you they’re not. Here’s a quick example:
When we talk about flexibility think of someone reaching down to touch their toes to stretch their hamstrings. The truth is, most of that range of motion is passive, meaning there’s an external force, like gravity to help pull them into that stretch.
Now take that same stretch and look at it a little differently. If I’m standing and pull my leg up towards me, I’m still stretching my hamstring, but now I’m using all of the tissue to get that stretch. This is an example of mobility and in this stretch, we call this active range of motion because nothing is helping me get into this position.
Another example is down dog in yoga. Your flexibility is being able to push your head through your arms to feel a stretch in your lats. The external force is gravity and the leverage you can produce through the floor with your hands.
Mobility would be can you raise both of your arms up over your head in a standing position? My guess is that for most, you won’t be able to pull them as far back as you would if you were in down dog.
See the difference?
Flexibility is a component of mobility but they are not the same.
Don’t get me wrong. We need flexibility to hep us move but we need to be able to control it and that’s what mobility training is for.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING TO RELIEVE ACHES, PAINS, AND TIGHTNESS
Mobility training is the most simple and effective way I’ve seen to relieve aches, pains, and tightness, and believe me, I’ve tried it all.
If you watched our previous video about why problems start in the first place, you know that if a joint doesn’t work properly or is weak, you might not even notice there’s a problem at first but your nervous system will. It’s always there trying to protect you when it doesn’t feel safe with you going in a position that requires that particular joint.
This protection comes in the form of things like knots, spasms or tightness that leads to aches and pains. If you get your joints working the way they’re supposed to, the nervous system will trust you and release those annoying issues.
Let’s look at tight glutes, which at one point or another has been a problem for us all. The standard protocol would be to stretch or jam a lacrosse ball on it and don’t get me wrong, you might temporarily feel better, but what happens the next day? As we know all too well…It comes back and you go through the whole process again, day after day after day!
The actual cause of those tight glutes, is your hip joint. If it can’t perform at least one of the functions it’s supposed to like flex, extend, abduct, adduct, internally, and externally rotate, your nervous system will put movement restrictions, tightness or knots in your muscles to prevent you from going in unsafe positions.
The solution is to first identify what actions your hip joint is limited in, and then work to improve that action with mobility training.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING TO REDUCE THE RISK OF INJURY
We’ve all dealt with injuries of some magnitude. They’re a part of life however, that doesn’t mean we can’t reduce the chance and severity of them.
Injuries happen when you ask a joint to do an action it’s not capable of performing.
Take the squat exercise for example. It requires a mobile ankle, knee, hip, and spine. If any of these joints aren’t functioning optimally, (meaning they lack movements that they’re supposed to have), they’ll eventually start breaking down.
For this squat example, let’s say your hip lacks flexion, (the ability to pull your knee toward your chest). When you go to squat, your lower back will step in and pick up the slack. What a nice guy!
The problem is that the low back isn’t meant to perform this action so inevitably pain will set in. I call this “the victim and the culprit.” The low back is the victim and where you feel the pain but the hip is the culprit, and his lack of function is what’s causing all of the problems.
Once your joints start getting stronger and moving the way they’re meant to with mobility training, your joints become bulletproof and you can avoid injury while you focus on setting your next PR in your squat.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING TO INCREASE FLEXIBILITY & RANGE OF MOTION
Earlier I mentioned the nervous system and how it’s the key to relieving aches, pain and tightness. But guess what? It’s also the key to increasing flexibility and range of motion.
When your nervous system feels safe, it lets you move in larger ranges, which equals improved flexibility.
You may be wondering,”Why do we stretch then?” Stretching has its purpose but is only part of the equation to increasing flexibility. If you stretch day in and day out and still can’t touch your toes, it’s the mobility training you need to add to your routine.
Stretching and flexibility training is mostly passive, meaning an external force (gravity, the floor, a wall, another person) is helping you into that position. This is called passive range of motion and it will only get you so far.
Tight hamstrings anyone? If you’re trying to stretch them by bending over and reaching down to your toes but can’t get your fingertips past your knees, it's because your nervous system doesn’t trust that if you go into a deeper range of motion as you try and touch your toes, that you’re going to be safe down there.
When you build strength and control at your joints with mobility training, you build that oh-so-important trust with the nervous system and you’ll be touching your toes in no time.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING TO IMPROVE SPORTS PERFORMANCE
When working with everyday athletes, something pretty awesome happens shortly after they’ve started mobility training. At first, they can’t quite seem to put their finger on it but they feel something different with how they move. All of the actions required in their sport are now easier, more efficient and even more powerful.
If you take a step back and look at what mobility training is actually doing, it makes perfect sense. If we make our joints stronger and more resilient, than we’re essentially making our hardware better.
Think of it like a race car. Would you rather race with Ferrari parts or busted old Pinto parts? Of course, you want the Ferrari parts!
Want a bigger squat or deadlift? Build better hip joints.
Want that huge bench or overhead press? Build better shoulder joints.
With mobility training, we’re building better hardware (joints) so you can move more efficiently and go perform at your highest level.
HOW TO USE MOBILITY TRAINING TO BREAK THROUGH TRAINING PLATEAUS
Have you ever gotten stuck at the bottom of the deadlift, squat or bench and although you tried accessory work, bands, or other training methods you just couldn’t seem to make any gains?
This is the land of a training plateau my friend and it's where no lifter ever wants to be. Fortunately, there’s a tool in your arsenal with mobility training that you can use to eliminate this weakness so you can blast through that sticking point.
Mobility training allows you to target these areas and create more range of motion you have control over. When this happens, you build more musculature and hence the more force and power you can produce.
When you’re more comfortable bringing the bar down to your chest with mobile shoulders, elbows and wrists, you can slingshot that puppy right off of you with that big boy weight.