Weekly musings, 2/19/17: mobility thoughts

Weekly musings, 2/18/17
There has been a big push in the fitness industry lately towards mobility, particularly controlled mobility, which is the range of motion you can actively access without using extra help to get into the position. This has prompted interesting discussions and given me more to ponder on my morning runs. I have reached a few conclusions regarding mobility and training, including:

  • Isolating joints is challenging for most people. As a result, I don’t usually jump into circular movements; instead, I begin by having the person understand how to isolate the joint linearly (front/back, side to side, subtle rotation). If you struggle with knowing whether you are isolating an area, ask yourself, “what happens if I move up and down? Can I keep everything else quiet?” Slowly built into complexity.
  • When you move into a “stretch” what happens to the rest of your body? If you raise the arm, for instance, does the back move too? One way to improve awareness of this is to exaggerate the movement at the back by flaring your ribs to lift your arm. Once you have done that a few times, try the movement without moving the ribs. Is it any easier?
  • Use the floor, a wall, or any other stable, inanimate object to help you feel when the whole body moves instead of the body part you are working on. A drill I often use is to set up a client with his back against the wall, feet in front and knees slightly bent. Maintaining the contact of the back on the wall, I ask the client to raise his arms while keeping the elbows straight. When forced to isolate the shoulder joint, a surprising number of people will feel this in their abs. 

Learning to move body parts independently can have a profound effect on overall movement. It takes a bit of mindfulness and patience, but the long term benefits empower a higher degree of movement.