How to Tackle the Mobility Monster
Yep, so, you’re tight...
You’re trainer tells you, your yoga teacher consoles you.. but hell, you know it in your bones as you wake up in pain or simple move like mud. You're back even knows it..
I’ve been there. I remember in my triathlon days going to a yoga class and walking in with fear.
I was that guy who needed 3 bolsters, a strap, a couple of blankets and sometimes a chair in order to get into positions.
So, I know how you feel. It isn’t life threatening, but it sucks. It nags at you. Especially since you’re kind of strong and the mobility just lets you down.
Can you ignore it any longer? Maybe you can try for a bit..
I couldn’t. After an injury got me, I finally decided to really tackle this mobility beast.
So, here I’m going to list a couple of things that I think are critical..
Critical to getting over that hurdle where it shifts from a chore to something more manageable.
But first, let’s get a few misconceptions out of the way
- Mobility work is for any age. There is no “too old” to start. We all start at the beginning and work with smart progressions.
- You don’t need intense yoga (unless you want to enjoy yoga for all that is yoga - a whole other discussion!)
- We aren’t talking just flexible or floppy. We are talking healthy range of motion with end range strength, as well as building resilience in the bod.
- Athletes - most of you don’t need a “strength and conditioning” program to perform better, you need to move better. This stuff is for you.
Alright, let’s go. I’m going to keep this nice and short:
- Simplicity and consistency. Find someone who knows posture and movement. We work with static and dynamic postural assessment, with a focus on the fascial system. Basically, you want to make sure you are starting in the right direction! Once you have a couple of key areas to address - say your “forward fold” for example, it get’s a lot easier. We can then identify some mobility exercises that you can start with. You’ll need to be consistent. For many, this means multiple times per week you need to create time (just a little!) to do your work.
- Gym time isn’t enough! We do mobility work all the freakin time in the gym. In each session, plus some specific classes. BUT, if you are tight as a drum, you’re going to need to do some extra work. This means open gym, or going through your routine at home. Once you accept that your body is the way it is from how you’ve lived your life over the past 2-5 DECADES, you can understand it’s going to take some effort. Accept this, then it’s clear sky from here
- The answer isn’t what you already know. If what you knew and did worked, you would be moving like a cat. A lot of the mobility techniques that we use are different to what many are used to. Sometimes loaded, dynamic or even ballistic, there are some VERY effective mobility training methods that come from the world of martial arts, gymnastics and other areas.
- Yes, I said Mobility TRAINING. To feel better, move better and perform at the level you know you can, you need to think about training mobility just like you might think about training your strength. If you are wound up to begin with, then you won’t have a chance if you don’t prioritise it pretty high. Without mobility, there is no movement (or at least a decreased range of motion) and therefore decreased strength potential and decreased performance.
- It’s all the little things. When you start to look at the body as a very connected, fascial system, then you can understand the importance of looking at it as a whole. We mobilise wrists, hands, feet, toes, calves, hips, spine.. We want healthy range of motion in all aspects of the body
So, what does it look like?
While it’s always individualised, I can say that I see the best results when people (and myself) address mobility in some way most days. This can often be 15-30 minutes each day, but each of those minutes is intentional. You can also get a lot of mobility work in passively - how and where you choose to sit (or not), some quick mobility work at lunch time, or arriving a little early to fit it in before your training.
It might also be a weekly longer mobility session. This usually allows us to see some great results in just a few weeks.
For higher level mobility targets (front/middle splits, higher level spinal extension etc), you then need to start thinking in months rather than weeks.
So yes, it can take a while. Is it worth it? Of course!