There is no way to argue that having good mobility is a valuable strategy no matter your fitness goal. Even if all you want is to gain muscle, the better you move, the more you can overload the right muscles of your body. The issue isn’t that one should do mobility training, rather what makes for actually effective mobility training drills.
Recently I saw a coach on social media (thank you social media for the constant content to write about) recommend that in order to improve one’s movement, mobility training should include…
-Isolated Joint Movements
If you are as confused by the last one as much as I am, no worries, I still don’t understand the additional mobility exercises that were meant by that last idea. To be fair, none of these practices by themselves are a bad thing, the issue becomes is this the most efficient way to approach our mobility training? After all, if we were to follow the above recommendations, how long does that all even take? I would guess easily in reality it would be around 20 minutes.
Again, is committing 20 minutes to your mobility training a bad thing? Remember, in training, when we say yes to one thing, we have to say no to something else. After all, none of us have all the time in the word, nor the energy to do everything in isolated ways. Even if we DID though, would this still yield the best results in mobility training?
My experience is no because for my early years as a coach I did something very similar. That is one reason why I know how long such efforts make and how the results aren’t really worth the time investment. Especially when we have better ways of solving our movement needs.
Adding The Core
Really focusing on creating core stability when we are looking to create mobility training for the shoulders, hips, thoracic spine, and even the ankles is very effective. Why? As this 2006 paper in Sports Medicine explains…
“The core acts as an anatomical base for motion of the distal segments. This can be considered ‘proximal stability for distal mobility’ for throwing, kick- ing or running activities.bMost of the prime mover muscles for the distal segments (latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, hamstrings, quadriceps and iliopsoas) attach to the core of the pelvis and spine. Most of the major stabilising muscles for the extremities (upper and lower trapezius, hip rotators and glutei) also attach to the core.”
The “Joint By Joint Approach” created by Strength Coach Mike Boyle and Physical Therapist, Gray Cook does a great job of breaking down how this works.
So, how can we practically add the core into our mobility training so that we achieve these better results?
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Using Breath With Movement
Can using specific breathing strategies help one’s mobility? By turning down our bodies nervous system we can actually improve our mobility training efforts quite quickly. Below I give you a real example of how this works.
While there is a time and place for isolated breath work, most people actually respond better if we provide some movement with our breath work. This is because using breath for most people doesn’t feel like anything they typically experience in the gym (like feeling muscles) so by adding movement as a feedback tool we can help our mobility efforts. Best of all, when we add very specific types of drills (as I show below), we also can stretch our fascial systems that could also be causing restriction in our movement efforts. So, we get to check off several keys within one effort. Try some of these drills below.
The point is that we can make mobility training not only more time efficient, but more effective too. That is the benefit of truly understanding the underlying issues that restrict our movement rather than incorrectly targeting individual muscles and joints. Everything in our body responds to another so it makes sense to integrate the concepts of good mobility training so that we can move better faster!
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