A few random thoughts on Mobility training

I just quickly put this together as I was starting to think about the seminar i’m helping to host in the new year. This just summarises a few of the points that’ll be included as a little teaser!

Mobility and Stability

Every joint has a purpose, whether it’s to be mobile and allow for free range of movement or whether its to be stable and allow us to control that movement. Having said that, every joint needs to have some degree of mobility and some degree of stability to function optimally. As such, when we are looking to incorporate some mobility training we need to look at the primary training needs of the joint. The ankle, hip and thoracic spine are all associated with requiring more mobility due to the anatomy of the joints and requirements of human movement.

Grey Cook explains this concept well with his joint by joint approach to the human body. A lot of the problems we see in an osteopath clinic are to do with joint function and how the joint isn’t moving properly which is leading to joint dysfunction at that joint or an adjacent joint. This simple concept has lead to a simple approach to begin to address dysfunction and restore normal movement via corrective exercise.

Mobility training
Buchan, N. (2013). A joint by joint approach to mobility. Available: https://strongergolf.org/2013/09/02/a-joint-by-joint-approach-to-mobility/. Last accessed 27 Nov 2016.

How often?

Daily. Simply put you should perform some sort of mobility/corrective exercise everyday and it should be performed with intent. Some light mobility work should be performed before training to reduce that level of stiffness but too much can increase the risk of injury. Imagine mobilising the hips so much that they have a completely new range of movement that they are not used to, then performing a deep squat! Your nervous system has no control over this movement and has no time to adapt and gain control in it, hence the risk for injury increases.

The bulk of your mobility training should be performed after activity or on your rest days. Mobilising post training has many great benefits. Your muscles and joints are more pliable as you have been warming them up throughout your session, your stiffness will most likely be gone and you can start to work into and explore new ranges of movement without the risk of injury. Also, we all know that once we stop training the muscle tightness and joint stiffness can creep in. Mobility work looks to restore full range and help prevent this.

I like to spend two to three minutes on key body parts each day giving me a minimum of 10 minutes targeted mobility work. On rest days I look at a 30-40 minute session to really dial everything in. Like anything, consistency is key and you won’t necessarily see progress straight away but you will long term.

It will help you long term

This is not just from a sporting perspective but from a life perspective. We were designed to move and as such each joint has a certain movement capacity. Due to demands of life such as increased time spent sat down at a desk or in a car or jobs requiring us to leaning back looking up to the ceiling painting etc, our bodies have adapted to move with less movement. The less we move the less fluid we bring into the joints and ultimately the quicker they can stiffen up and stop moving all together. This means a small part of the joint is doing all the work and taking all the stress all of the time. This can lead to all sorts of problems from simple aches and pains to the more serious issues of arthritis and joint degeneration. Mobility is one easy way to start to restore this movement and get those joints moving again.

How do I know what mobility to do?

A lot of the time people can tell where they are stiff! There may be some movements that don’t feel comfortable and that provoke pain. An osteopath is able to assess joints individually and as a group so they can get there perception of what they think is happening. Then they can put together a corrective exercise plan to help you address these issues and start to perform at your best!

About the author.

Michael is an Osteopath and trainee strength and conditioning coach as well as a competitive powerlifter