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How To Build Better Mobility Training

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I love discussing mobility training in our blogs because if I’m being honest, I neglected mobility work for a long time in my lifting. Not because I didn’t believe mobility was important, but because like many, I had been really frustrated in not getting results from the time I had devoted to mobility training.

You see, in the late 90’s as functional training started building momentum in fitness, we were told that bad posture was due to tight muscles pulling on one side and weak muscles on the other side. This stemmed from renown physical therapist, Vladmir Janda’s work. At the time revolutionary, but over the years even Dr. Janda would say this model had imperfections.

During that time we spent A LOT of time stretching “this and that” muscle. Seriously like half the training session was stretching, yet, we weren’t making much progress. Why? You will find out soon enough! However, I gave up on this model, not making much progress with any of my clients. Then around 2001, the idea of joint mobility started gaining popularity as practitioners that had a background in martial arts were showing a lot of unique drills and great movement skills. What was often overlooked was the years and years that many of these coaches had in not only these exercises but this type of overall training.

That is why so many people keep jumping around from mobility training program to mobility training program time and time again. I can understand why as we are told that we should be able to help people’s mobility, but we find this or that drill too difficult, it doesn’t change one’s movement, we don’t have progressions, there are actually many reasons that people don’t have success in their mobility training.

mobility training

How To Have More Success With Mobility Training

What I have learned in making all the mistakes that I have discussed in the past 25 years of coaching has helped me create better solutions. For one, we are talking about mobility training, which is simply our body’s ability to control its movement through a range of motion. We often say joint mobility, but there are many factors that impact if we are actually even dealing with the joint. Soft-tissue, neural coordination, and the joint all play an integrated role in mobility training. Therefore, we should be looking to address all these issues, but spend our time on the type of training that has the biggest impact on our ability to move with great control and fluidity.

Strength coach, Martin Adame, shows how we integrate the 3 primary factors of mobility training (soft-tissue, neural, and joint control) in a smarter way to approach our mobility training. 

Just like our strength training, our mobility training should focus on integrating the body in functional patterns and tapping into our nervous system wants to control our body through patterns like lifts/chops (as Martin shows above), core stability (which happens through tension we create in our hands and feet), and positions that don’t overwhelm the nervous system so it goes on guard.

I love what Martin shows in working with his own parents because this is a perfect way to demonstrate why these principles are so important. Here are real people that probably have some change to their joints (as we get older arthritis and joint degeneration is pretty normal), they aren’t elite athletes that have years of movement training behind them, they need cuing that isn’t overly complicated and movements that show them how to use their bodies smarter. That is why in DVRT we coach with real people in mind, not the 1%.

Of all the mistakes that I have made the biggest was thinking there was some “magical” exercise that would fix my clients’ mobility issues. Trust me, there were plenty of people out there that would tell me as much, but then I would go back and find that it didn’t work and get frustrated. Instead, focusing on concepts and principles allowed me to adjust the mobility training to fit my client and not try to force my client into a position or drill that wasn’t good for them.

If we focus on the concepts of putting people in positions where their nervous system feels comfortable and doesn’t guard if we use core stability by loading our body with deliberate tension that is impacted by how and where we create the tension, if we have people perform functional patterns that are natural to the body, we can create much greater success than most imagine. It won’t happen overnight, but if we can show improvements that keeps all of us motivated from coach to client. That is how “magic” actually happens from being intentional and consistent.

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