Who needs mobility work?

I have been meaning to write this blog for a long time but I just haven’t been able to get my head around how to structure this. I’d like to preface this by stating the obvious:

I am NOT a qualified physiotherapist of Doctor. The advice that I give below is intended as a general guide and should not be used as a treatment for a specific injury. If in doubt always seek professional advice.

There we go. Hopefully I have covered myself from potential lawsuits. First of all I had better explain what I mean by “mobility”. For me this refers to any stretching or specific exercise that you do to improve movement patterns, range of motion (ROM) and flexibility. I have a routine of things that I do on an almost daily basis but before I go into those I’d like to start by going into how I came up with my routine.

The mistake I see a lot of people make with this stuff is jumping in at the deep end and deciding that they need an extensive hour long foam rolling, lacrosse ball and stretching routine twice per day every day. In my experience with this stuff, less is definitely more. The reason behind it is twofold but incredibly simple:

1. If it’s too time consuming and inconvenient, you simply won’t do it.
2. If you need to do more, you have nowhere left to go.

So if you don’t need all of that, what do you need? Well that depends on how broken you are. If you have injuries you will need exercises to help those. If you have issues with mobility in certain areas, you’ll need exercises for that. For most people who aren’t professional athletes though there are some common problems that occur which everyone should address.

The modern man typically works in an office, hunched over a computer screen, sitting for most of his day. This will generally give you tightness in the following areas:

– Pecs
– Hip flexors
– Hamstrings
– Glutes and maybe lower back

Lots of those muscles get shortened so the cornerstone of your routine should be things to release those areas. I also think that every lifter should be foam rolling. A basic pass over your mid-upper back, hips, glutes and quads will help you no end.

So what if you have another problem that you need to deal with. First thing first you need to work out what is injured/tight. Be aware that what needs releasing/treating is not always what hurts. Kelly Starret of MobilityWOD (more on him later) talks about checking upstream and downstream of the problem area. Lots of muscles are interlinked and affect others in that chain.

Next you need to do some research. Google is your friend as always but choose your sources wisely. Not all sites are created equal and some are more useful than others. My go to resource is a Kelly’s MobilityWOD. Either through his website or a quicker way is simply to YouTube search “MobilityWOD” and the affected body part. 9 times out of 10 that will hook you up. If not then google around but look at the whole site and its target audience before deciding if that exercise is right for you.

Lastly you’ll need some tools. Definitely nothing expensive but anything to help you release tension is useful. I started with a foam roller but after a while it was too soft so I made my own out of PVC pipe. You can too:

How to make a ghetto foam roller

The only other thing you’ll need is a selection of balls to roll on and add pressure. Americans love to use lacrosse balls but they’re a bit harder to come by in the UK. I use a hockey ball for most stuff. When more pressure is needed I use a golf ball. Lastly I have some hard rubber massage balls that I picked up dirt cheap. These are good for getting into more sensitive areas like biceps and pecs.

So now go forth and mobilise. In the next article I’ll go through what I do to warm-up and also to help recovery.

Resources: http://www.mobilitywod.com/

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