Mobility can be a hard concept to grasp in the beginning, hell, it can be difficult to grasp down the road. The umbrella that it reaches is wide and can often find itself crowded with things just thrown under. I hear it all the time, “Chesty, you would be proud of me”, as they aimlessly rub themselves with some roller tool or ball. I’m stoked to have you take the time to do something other than sweat yourself through rep after rep, but let’s look at the bigger, and finer picture.
Mobility is a usable range of motion, or put simply, flexibility plus strength. So anything that allows you to maintain or improve that, can be considered mobility work. From the first steps to the deep cuts, let’s look at the mobility umbrella.
Mobility First Steps
This is where I start with people. So here we start with the first steps, or, the things you need to know to run as smooth as possible, and not get any worse. With these few tools they can complement their training program through regular maintenance and recovery:
- Soft Tissue Massage/Release
If you engage in a regular training program that stresses your tissues so you can grow stronger and achieve more, these are mandatory for continued success. If you don’t dedicate yourself to any such training program, these will act to offset the demands placed on your body day to day.
They aid in your ability to maintain or use your mobility. You’ll then have access to your current ranges of motion, ease hypertonic tissues from regular training/life stress, and ensure you’ll be able to continue what you're doing. For those ‘far gone’ from an active life, you may see massive improvements.
If you’re already doing this regularly, kudos to you, but you’ll only receive your first merit badge.
Mobility Deep Cuts
This is where we take it up a notch. This tackles the deficits in your range of motion, unlocks new access, and upgrades your tissues capacity to handle whatever is placed before you. With these tools we train mobility, not just maintain it:
- Active Rotational Movement
- Positional Isometrics
- Full/End Range Control
Whether you are training specifically for something, or are just training to live a progressively active life, this is for you. You will have deficits in your mobility, and these must be addressed to improve your training experience or take you to the next level.
This is mobility training. These principles are to be used like any other exercise or concept you would use to achieve a desired result. You want a bigger squat, you have to squat. You want to be able to squat effectively for the rest of your life, you have mobile hips. These increase capacity and allow you access to more, for some, that may just be getting back to normal (whatever that is). You need progressive strength to unlock and overtake.
So I’ll tip my hat to you for your rub session on the foam roller, and I may just shoot you a nod of approval for taking the time to stretch. Just note the difference between maintaining what you got, and working for what you don’t.
How important is mobility work? Well, how important is being able to do what you do? Let’s keep ya’ll doing it. Deciding your need to perform the first steps, or the deep cuts, should be based on how complacent you are with your current level of mobility.
That holy grail is just after the deep cuts, and that will give you some true Chesty props.
Emile Maxwell Connaughton