There are two approaches to the mobility conundrum:
1. Maintain or restore normal joint ranges
2. Strengthen the joints to handle chaotic forces
For our purposes we will focus on point number 1 and indirectly hit point number 2. I do directly work on point 2 with my athletes but that is too much info and for this post and isn’t a starting point which is what we want to give here.
Keys to successful mobility training:
That’s it! The main thing is consistently working on your mobility. That is the key. Do something every day to get more mobile.
1. Self-myofascial release aka SMR aka foam rolling
3. Dynamic loaded “stretches”
SMR or foam rolling releases tension in the muscle and fascia and clears up adhesions in the connective tissue and increases mobility by releasing a limiter of movement in a sense. Everyone should do this as we generate and hold a lot of tension in our bodies. Athletes and non-athletes alike, but this is not our focus either.
This is taking your joints through their ranges to the end points and pushing them in order to increase them it can be done statically, dynamically or assisted with bands. This is also not what we are focussing on.
Dynamic loaded “stretches”
This is what we are focussing on. What is this? Simply put these are movements that take you through a full range that we load lightly to facilitate the stretch and add a stability and strengthening component to the exercise. It is stretching but with an added stability component. THIS IS NOT THE COMPLETE ANSWER, but it is the part I find missing from most athletes training programs. Almost everyone does SMR and stretches but very few people do this.
These routines are done as a warm up before training sessions to prepare the body for the session and also to build in the consistency element. If we do these before training sessions we make our mobility practice regular.
This is a movement sequence using a kettlebell. Start with a relatively light bell. Women can start with an 8kg men with a 16kg, though some men will need to use an 8kg to start. Remember there’s no shame in using an 8kg.
It goes as follows:
Goblet Squats 6 reps
Goblet Lateral Squats 3 reps each leg
Goblet Reverse Lunges 3 reps each leg
Single leg RDL 3 reps each leg
This is a warm up sequence with a barbell it is the progression on the kettlebell sequence. If you can start with a lighter bar like a 10kg or 15kg bar and then progress to the standard Olympic bar. The main limiting movement is usually the overhead squat and the lateral squat. So your choice of weight is determined by those movements.
It goes as follows:
Overhead squat 6 reps
Snatch grip press 6 reps
Lateral squat 3 reps each leg
Reverse lunge 3 reps each leg
Single Leg RDL 3 reps each leg
The kettlebell armbar is a mostly unknown and underrated exercise. It is a great movement for improving mobility and stability in the shoulder as well as the thoracic spine. When done correctly it is a great drill to keep your shoulders healthy and injury free. Key point: When done correctly!
Things to remember when doing armbars:
· START REALLY LIGHT, a dislocated shoulder is not worth your ego. Nobody cares how much you armbar
· Move slowly and deliberately
· Use your breathing when you inhale move out of the stretch, when you exhale move further into it. Hold the armbar for between 3 and 5 breaths.
· Use a really light weight
· Keep the kettlebell aligned over your shoulder
· Use a light weight and move slowly and controlled
I think you get the idea. The armbar is a great movement, but dumb things can happen when ego and lack of concentration are involved. So make good decisions!
How to use these
Use them as warm ups to your training sessions. They serve as great movements to activate stabilizers and to take the joints through a full range of motion. Perform between 2- 4 sets of a sequence
Day 1 warm up:
Kettlebell Sequence 2 sets
Kettlebell Armbar 3 sets of 3 breaths per side
Day 2 warm up:
Bar Sequence 3 sets
KB Armbar 1 set of 5 breaths per side
There you have it, some tools to add to your arsenal. These are not there to replace your Rolling and stretching it is there to add to it to help improve your capacity to move well and your performance.
Move well and move often.