Creating a foundation of quality movement is critical to being a healthy human being
Zachary J Connell M.Ed., CSCS, Pn-1, CPT
What Is Mobility Training?
Mobility training is a holistic approach to resolving and preventing injury while programming the body with the motor skills necessary to successfully execute physical tasks and exercise. It isn’t a substitute for exercise, but rather its complement. Mobility training holds that “quality” of movement is more important than “quantity” of movement. It embraces sound execution of proper technique of an exercise while discouraging the task completion mentality.
Mobility training uses an array of modalities to restore function to movement or “mobility toys” including: foam rollers, lacrosse balls, resistance bands, and compression wraps to name a few.
It is best used as either a) a daily, self-maintenance or restorative intervention or b) a means to provide specific, acute improvements to mobility to create an internal position of greater stability within the body during exercise.
What’s the difference between mobility and stretching?
Static stretching is taking a muscle to the end of its range of motion and applying tension to lengthen or “stretch” it. This can provide the benefit of returning a muscle to its resting length after a workout, but is the equivalent of stretching out a wet t-shirt from corner to corner prior to exercise and asking it to maximally fire or shorten- not good.
Enter mobility training. This is a more intentional approach that dials on all facets of movement dysfunction- kinked up fascia, short & tight muscles, joint capsule restrictions, sliding surface restrictions, scar tissue, and boney blocks or restrictions.
Who can benefit from Mobility Training?
Anyone charged with the task of getting out of bed in the morning and moving can benefit in some capacity. More specifically, people who sit a lot, work on the computer, wear highly cushioned shoes & or dress shoes/ high heels, have past or nagging injuries, avid runners, and those who exercise with weights can all benefit from mobility training.
This approach can be life changing for those in pain or simply eye opening for those that lack the fundamental knowledge of what good posture, breathing technique, and movement is.
Which classes are best for me?
This is a great question to ask your trainer! Don’t have a trainer? Get a complimentary movement assessment performed and we will tell you which classes you should attend. A word of caution- again, this is a holistic approach to movement. If you are experiencing movement dysfunction in your knee joint, chances are you have an upstream (hip) and downstream (ankle) joint restriction. More easily put, if something isn’t working right in your lower body you’d be better off attending all mobility workshops that address lower body than one specific class.
There is no one exercise that will be a cure all for your pain/ dysfunction. This is a systematic, and long term commitment to moving better and training smarter.
How often do I need to do Mobility Training?
Mobility training is a long term commitment or style of training. It is not a temporary band aid. While mobility based training can alleviate pain and improve your performance while you continue to exercise, removing it from the equation or has the potential to default you back into bad movement patterns. In this, I mean that once you are able to restore function to a particular body part/region you are not released from putting the time and effort in to maintain said area’s suppleness.
With this there are few specific ways to get the effects out of mobility training:
- spend 10 minutes each day working on mobility (you can spend more),
- spend 2 minutes on an area (2 minutes on each side of the body in some cases)
- choose the 3 mobilizations of highest priority in your warm-up (can be specific to your areas of pain/restriction or the specific workout you want to do)
- choose 3 mobilizations to cool down following exercise.
How can I tell it’s working?
The main ways to tell that your mobility training is working include the following:
- resolved pain
- improved performance- weight lifted in a particular exercise or improved display of speed or power variable.
- Also, you can quickly test & retest what positions your body is able to get into prior to and follow a mobilization exercise. The difference is easily felt, but makes for a dramatic visual effect if documented with a camera or video recorder.
What equipment do I need for Mobility Training?
Experiencing mobility training for an extended period of time will teach you than almost anything can be implemented as a mobility toy, however, there are a few tools that have a place in everyone’s mobility toolbox. These include:
- foam roller (rumble roller or trigger point “The Grid” rollers are the best, while general black foam rollers are a good option for beginners)
- 3 lacrosse balls (2 taped together, 1 stand alone) or a pair of yoga tune up therapy balls with tote (can be found at yogatuneup.com
- 1 thick and one 1 thin resistance or jump-stretch band (these can be specific based on the person)
*Rogue Fitness offers starter mobility training packages including a foam roller, 3 lacrosse balls, and 1 or 2 bands (can be found here)
**More specific information about equipment will be provided at each workshop**
What other resources can help me?
It is important for me to give all credit to the MobilityWOD Father, Dr. Kelly Starrett. I am simply a disciple or coach of his work and hope to introduce as many people as possible to it in hopes of improving their lives to the extent it has improved mine.
K-Starr is a physical therapist, former US kayaker, and owner of San Francisco CrossFit and MobilityWOD.com He publishes a new mobilization on his site daily, offers webinars on specific injuries, and has an expansive YouTube channel of mobilizations that can be beneficial. His two books on human movement- Becoming a Supple Leopard & Ready to Run are worth their weight in gold.
I’d recommend looking up all of the above on social media (facebook, YouTube, etc) so that you are streamlining videos and resources on a daily basis.