I know what it is like to have personal training clients come in with lofty goals, then upon doing some basic screens you realize that they just don’t move very well. All of a sudden you start to panic a bit as a coach. You want to help them achieve their goals, but you know that they won’t be able to really reach them if we don’t improve the way they move.
Now, to be perfectly up front, I have probably made all the mistakes in this regard. Often I would get clients that needed better movement, but they WANTED to lose body fat, look leaner, etc. So, I thought I was doing the right thing by breaking down on the aspects of mobility they needed. That involved trying to work individual joints, stretch specific areas of the body, this work took often at least half the workout to do. Worst of all, my clients weren’t giving it great effort because it wasn’t what they thought they should be doing.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore what people need to give them what they think they want, but there is a way to be far more effective with doing so. That is why I wanted to focus on 3 key concepts on improving mobility training efforts so that we can have clients moving better because better mobility often relates to clients that can train more consistently (because they don’t hurt and they don’t get as sore), they can train more intensely, and they can recover for effectively.
Where do we start?
Please, Please Stop Isolating!
There is still a large disconnect between understanding how the human body is designed to function and what we do in the gym. Far too often, probably because it is just easy to understand, people focus on trying to isolate joints and muscles, especially when it comes to mobility training.
What you should understand from videos like the above is that things like hamstring, low back, and even upper back and neck tightness can be related to issues throughout the chain. If we understand, for example, that the feet can influence everything above, then it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to perform movements that don’t use the feet in the movement. Exercises like those below make more sense then…
This isn’t just my opinion, a 2012 paper in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning found, “…this study incorporated hip stretching protocols that include torso and arm positioning, to address the concept of myofascial stretch. Given the large improvements in hip mobility, it appears that these stretches are beneficial and should be considered as another mechanistic choice when recommending a stretching protocol.”
The Core Is REALLY Important!
It is an idea that can be traced back to the creation of the therapeutic system of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) back in the 1940’s. The concept developed by neuro therapists is that our nervous system often “reacts” to instability in our body by creating tightness to protect itself. This eventually lead to the saying, “proximal stability for distal mobility.”
On the most basic level, this would mean that if our core is unstable then in order to protect our body our nervous system would reduce the ability to move areas like our shoulders and hips to save our spine from risks. This has been backed by A LOT of studies, but in the study mentioned earlier they found that even in groups that did NO stretching but did core stabilization and motor control exercises that there was great results in increased hip mobility.
“Of equal interest is the finding that hip rotation ROM improved when participants were given a 6-week program of core endurance exercises, combined with hip-spine disassociation exercises. No hip stretches were given or discussed, yet passive hip rotation improved, highlighting the potential role of including core stabilization or proximal stiffening training when rehabilitating the distal extremities.”
What drills like the above does is force the core to create stability and when combined with specific breathing techniques will enhance core stability. People often misunderstand core strength and stability, when we are talking about stability we are referring to the use of the deep core stabilizers. These are muscles that you just can’t flex or tighten up and an interesting 2020 research paper in International Journal Of Health Science And Research explains the importance of diaphragmatic breath work for core stability…
“Core stability along with diaphragmatic breathing exercise has shown an improvement in all measures of stability. The probable hypothesis for this result would be that the core muscles also work as accessory muscles of ventilation, the muscle fibres pull ribs and costocartilage caudally in motion of exhalation. By increasing intra- abdominal pressure, they force diaphragm into thoracic cage, increasing speed and volume of exhalation. Tension in abdominal musculature helps decrease intra- abdominal pressure by lowering diaphragm in respiration.”
Combining good core stability drills with deliberate breath work enhances the stability we achieve.
Helping Emotional Control
To be honest, this is something that I have heard very few people in the industry discuss. When it comes to helping our movement we rarely think about our emotional state. That might because we are largely taught to think of physical issues as just physical issues. However, research now into illnesses like arthritis, IBS, fibromyalgia, and many other conditions that can impact not just our health, but movement are showing that regulating our emotional state can have very positive benefits.
A 2000 paper in Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America found, “Research over the last 20 years within the new specialty of behavioral medicine, or mind-body medicine as it is colloquially known, has made significant contributions to the treatment of rheumatic disease. There has been a convergence of findings documenting the complex interplay of psychosocial and biological factors in determining patients’ experience of illness. This has led to the application of educational and cognitive-behavioral intervention strategies as complementary treatment options.”
This means if we can calm our nervous system we can not only actually reduce the inflammation in our body that can cause aches\pains that keep us from moving like we want, but it can also help reduce the brakes that a very overwhelmed nervous system would probably use. That is why practices as we have been showing are something we are so passionate about. There is a great deal of literature showing how movement practices like these can help reduce anxiety/depression, lower blood pressure, decrease arthritic effects, and increase mobility/balance/stability. Makes sense that they should probably be at the cornerstone of what we do!
These aren’t the only ways we can work on better mobility training, but they should play a big part. Combine these movements with our DVRT Restoration concepts and we start to become very efficient with our mobility training while also enhancing other qualities that can have very positive effects on our other fitness goals!
You can get our new Breath Work Program AND Myofascial Integrated Movement program for a VERY special price with code “breath” HERE and you can get 30% off our MIM program with code “breath” as well HERE
© 2023 Ultimate Sandbag Training. Site by Jennifer Web Design.