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3 Bad Mistakes In Mobility Training

shoulder exercises

We hope you had a great holiday and know that many don’t really get back on track till after the New Year, but we don’t think we should wait on giving you great training information that you can use right now! One of the most common topics that gets discussed is mobility training. Of course having good mobility is important, the better our overall mobility the harder we can train, the better we can build our bodies because we are loading the right structures and that means good mobility also helps our resilience to common injuries as well. With a topic like mobility training that is so popular, you would think that many of the methods you see online are well backed by research, sadly this is NOT the case.

So, where do so many mobility training programs go wrong?

mobility training

Mistake #1: Doing Too Much Isolated Joint Training

This is probably THE biggest mistake I see in the way mobility training is addressed in most fitness and even therapy programs. That is, if we see that something like our shoulder has limited mobility, we tend to instantly think that it has to do with the shoulder itself. A great 2018 paper in “Physical Therapy In Sport” explains there can be A LOT more to limited joint mobility in an area like the shoulder, than just the joint itself…

“A multitude of local and global factors have been identified that could lead to Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD). Local factors include bony abnormalities (Tokish, 2014), capsular and soft tissue changes (Takenaga et al., 2015), or imbalance in External Rotation (ER) and IR force generation at the shoulder joint (Kibler et al., 2012). Global factors include improper sequence of muscle activation among lower extremity, trunk, and upper extremity joints (Laudner, Wong, Onuki, Lynall, & Meister, 2015); or impaired function of the respiratory diaphragm muscle, which has been shown to contribute to disturbed motion of the shoulder girdle (Hodges & Gandevia, 2000a,b; Kolar et al., 2009, 2010).”

If you want a translation, the above states that MANY things can impact our mobility. Issues such as actual changes to the joint itself (mobility really won’t solve such issues), soft-tissue issues (these can be addressed), motor control which requires not just things like isolated joint movement, but how the chains of our body function to produce movement. This is why integrated movements are much more effective for mobility training than isolated.

Physical Therapist, Jessica Bento, shows how we can make these ideas come to life.

Mistake #2: Thinking It Is Just The Joint

The above already pointed us to the VERY common mistake that many make which is that mobility training is really just about the joint. However, you can’t just train the joint itself EVEN if you REALLY wanted to because there are muscles, tendons, ligaments, and a whole nervous system that controls so much of our movement.

One of the most overlooked aspects of working mobility is also addressing the myofascial system. That is the combination of muscle and fascia (they really are intertwined) that science has shown can impact our mobility but also experience of pain. As the Mayo Clinic explains…

“Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder. In this condition, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in the muscle and sometimes in seemingly unrelated parts of your body.”

Many people are familiar with this concept using myofascial tools like foam rollers, trigger point balls, etc. While those tools can be helpful, they don’t solve how our body can hold tension, or alter how we move so that we don’t go back to having these trigger points again and again. That is why mind-body practices have been shown to be effective means in helping many of these myofascial movement restrictions and pain sensations. The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine has cited such practices as osteoarthritis, low back pain, and fibromyalgia (2).

Mistake #3: Not Integrating Breath With Functional Movement

Breath work has become way more popular recently and there is quite a bit of evidence that it should, especially when it comes to mobility training. Research has shown that teaching more diaphragmatic breathing exercises can improve mobility and decrease pain perception (1). Makes sense that breath work should be integrated into our mobility training, especially because it can also reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, etc. These emotions can also impact our mobility and pain perception.

However, just relying on breath work isn’t a goal we should shoot for in our mobility training. Including good functional movement with breath should be our ultimate goal and that is the thought process behind mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi, qigong, and others. Such practices have been shown to increase mobility effectively AND decrease pain perception in challenging groups like those suffering from arthritis (3).

You may not think that becoming a yogi or a tai chi master is in your future and it doesn’t have to be, that is why we have created programs like our Myofascial Integrated Movement system (MIM). We have taken concepts and principles of these great mind-body movement systems and made it applicable for people to use 3-4 drills in their warm-ups or as a recovery workout. The best part is that we are covering multiple goals at once instead of just relying on one thing. Using these strategies we can improve posture, balance, stability, and our mobility training. This isn’t just my opinion but really backed by science. You can see through our Restoration and MIM principles, concepts, and progressions we have such a better model of really addressing mobility training to be more effective and long lasting.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn these ideas and MUCH more in our upcoming 6-week online Shoulder Masterclass program starting January 18th. This in-depth class will cover shoulder training from screens, corrective exercise to strength and performance. Our early bird is at such a low price because we want people to really see how they can make such an impact to their own and others training and health. The early bird won’t be offered for long, so check it out HERE


  1. Tai Chi and Chronic Pain Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine & Volume 37, Number 4, July-August 2012
  2. Effects of Diaphragmatic Mobilization and Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises on Pain and Quality of Life in Individuals with Shoulder Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial
  3. Effects of Self-help Tai Chi for Arthritis Applying the Nine Movement Tai Chi