I’m not flexible, I’m mobile!

A large component of my training focuses on moving well and that’s a journey I started after old sports injuries slowed me down and made my life a general discomfort, a stressor and forced me to stop a lot of the things I enjoyed… Gosh, what a miserable way to start a blog post!

Let’s fix that right now.

In the present day, I move a lot better, pretty dam well by average standards, my aches and pains are largely under control and I do get to play more, running around the bush (countryside for non-Aussies) and swing, press and squat my Kettlebells. Life’s generally rocking sweet \m/(><)\m/

IMG_0314When I share my training sessions or demonstrate some movements I get called bendy or flexible, “ooh, you must stretch all the time”, they say!

Actually, I do only one stretch most days (video below) but I do practice a fair amount of mobility.

Now, mobility isn’t just a description of not being confined to a chair for large periods of time as it often applies to some of our seniors. Mobility is something much more, but also includes the ability to get out of a seat too.

Mobility is NOT flexibility!

Flexibility describes the movement of a joint or the range of movement of a limb or torso often with the aid of gravity pulling upon it or a force being applied to it. Think of the hamstring flexibility stretch where stretchees (think I just made up that word… mmmm) sit on the floor, grab their toes with the legs straight and pull themselves forward. Or maybe a chest stretch with an arm pulled backwards against a wall or a post. Whilst these are fine stretches to temporarily relieve a general tension, mobility adds a much more applicable element, that of strength and integrity in the joints.

A lot of our daily practices from sitting, prolonged standing, chronic stillness to even sports can, over time, lead to a lack of good movement or the ability to control a limbs movement without restriction. These are often due to imbalances or over dominant movements, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Dangerous Deficit

Aye, that heading does sound like a bad title to an even badder book about finances but it’s not.

While being able to move to a certain range of movement before the body stops us is our flexibility, being able to use our strength to attain a full range of movement is mobility. Where there is a large difference between the two, a movement deficit, there is a greater risk of injury during physical activities.

Being able to control a movement to a certain point is done so with control and integrity, but once you go beyond that point, is there still control and integrity? Nope. The chance of injury has now increased and should loading be applied… well, the risk sores higher.

So you may be asking if flexibility is bad, well, no. It’s the difference between your flexibility and mobility that’s the problem.

You can be flexible and mobile but should not be flexible and immobile.

You clear on the message? If not, please get in touch and I’ll happily elaborate further…. and check out the videos below 😀

Everyone’s got to have the sickness

‘Cause everyone seems to need the cure

-Metallica

Yep, stiff and sore people are flailing their bodies around gym mats in the hope of curing what ails them and their tight this, that and the other, but dammit, what they need is to get stronger in their movement practice.

A mobility plan doesn’t need to be very hectic, painful or even that challenging to begin with. Like every physical endeavour, mobility training can be taken to extremes and I’m all for progressing but for most of us and definitely beginners, a slow and reasonable routine should be followed, practiced and really ‘owned’ before looking at advancements for their enhancements!

Where to start?

Well, I’m a lovely young man, well that’s what the old people describe me as and everyone else doesn’t think too badly of me either, so I’m happy to share some simple demos below just to give you an idea of what could be included in a personal mobility plan.

If you like reading, check out the Original Strength books from Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert, it is probably the one system that has influenced me the most.

The simplicity of mobility training makes it often an easy component of exercise to ignore or belittle, especially when the movements may look odd, unloaded, don’t require any equipment etc. But by embracing an every day practice without duress or stress can lead to great outcomes in physicals wellness which will include improved strength.

These are some of the basic mobility drills everyone can and should play with on a daily basis.

Rocking:

Segmented Rolling:

Windshield Wipers:

Squats:

Frog stretch: by Master SFG Jon Engum

My only stretch:

Brettzel Stretch 1.0:

Brettzel 2.0:

Click HERE for other mobility sessions. 

You really don’t have to make a big deal about mobility practice. It’s just something to build into a daily habit and may mean starting with just on move that you feel adds to your day. Maybe something that frees up an irritating tight spot or a movement that is fun or inspires you to get on with your day with vitality or maybe a mobility drill that you find challenging like crawling.

In any case, the point here is to find a movement practice that you will actually practice. Just get it done, thrive and move on with your day.

As an example, here’s an actual example of what I do early morning before my first clients arrive.

This year I’m running frequent  Mobility Workshops. If you would like to attend, please get in touch to get onto the mailing list. (no junk, just notification of upcoming workshops)

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