The Cycle of Insanity
in·san·i·ty –noun – doing the same thing over & over again and expecting a different result.
You stretch for hours, yet your mobility doesn’t have any lasting change.
If this is you it is one of the most frustrating experiences.
The media has fed you a lie… that mobility is a simple equation:
Work + Time = Results
If this were the case all the exercise addicts would also be the fittest in the world. The reality is these people often end up broken, unable to move with quality and losing all athleticism.
Here is a much more accurate equation for mobility:
Work (right kind & amount) + congruent lifestyle + consistency + time + genetics = Better Odds of Desired Result
Your weakest link in that chain will always be your limiter. For example, if you stretch for 30 minutes a day and you spend the rest of your day sitting at your desk job, you are always going to have sub-par mobility.
This article will focus on the work, rather than fixing your lifestyle or lack of consistency and patience.
Want more on improving your lifestyle, check out this article…
Gender Differences in Mobility: A Cultural Discussion
My goal now is to answer… How do you know what is the right kind of work?
Muscle Tightness vs. Shortness
Your chronically tight hip flexors or hamstrings that you stretch again and again might not be short.
Muscle Shortness is not the same as Muscle Tightness.
It is possible to have a tight muscle that is long. Your brain creates this tension to protect you.
If you do not have the stability and core strength around your spine then your nervous system will harness other muscles (like hip flexors and hamstrings) and create tension to protect you.
The spine needs to have stability in order to move. If the core isn’t strong enough to do the job, it will change position and try to use something else to provide the stability it needs. This typically means the hip, hamstring and mid back become tense to try to give some stability to the area.”-Dean Sumerset
If you have a wretched Overhead Squat it is actually probably your body’s way of surviving the movement and coming out injury free. By no means is it effective in moving load sustainably over time, but it is actually quite efficient as a survival mechanism.
Compensations are just the most efficient, least painful way of getting the job done.”Read more of Dean Sumerset’s article here.
A Cycle of Compensation
Let’s say you have overdeveloped quads. The muscle fascia (connective tissue) of your strong, short quads ties in with your hip flexors. You hip flexors run back through your body and attach to your spine. As a result, your pelvis is pulled into an anterior tilt, which tightens up your hamstrings. Because you have an anterior pelvic tilt and an immobile T-Spine, your lower back makes up the ground in movements like overhead squats. You shift forward to take pressure of your low back, and as a result use your quads in the movement. Then your quads become ever more overdeveloped. The cycle perpetuates.
This is just one example, but it happens all over our bodies constantly. When looking to fix mobility, we must look at movement. That why Zoar focuses on improving movement…if you move better, everything improves.
Solving the Mobility Equation
If you are an athlete who has tight muscles rather than short muscles your equation to solving mobility must involve core strength and stability training, in addition to fixing your faulty movement patterns.
By creating a stronger, more stable core your brain will perceive positions like overhead squats as less threatening. This allows you to carry less tension in the tight muscle and allows you to achieve a better position with less effort. You just improved your mobility.
Proximal Stability Promotes Distal Mobility”
Where to Begin
1. Slow Down & Fix Your Movement
Moving with compensations only reinforces faulty movement by developing the wrong musculature.
A sloppy front rack will move push jerks from being a leg movement to an upper body movement with tension being constant through the shoulders and the posterior chain being removed. Continue this long enough and your overdeveloped shoulders and weak legs will make it even more challenging to break.
Too many people in Functional Fitness want to skip steps. Slow progress is often better than fast progress, but slow progress lasts while fast progress often results in injury.
Developing Movements Step-by-Step
- Flexibility: Range of Motion
- Mobility: Range of Motion with Torque
- Position: Mobility + Systemic Organization
- Movement: Position of High Stability to Position of High Stability, Quickly
- Layers: Speed, then Load, then Fatigue
2. Learn how to brace effectively
If you can learn to use your core as a built-in weight belt, exercises like squats, cleans and deadlifts will all improve your core strength. Think about creating tension through 360 degrees in your abs, obliques and low back. Think of your core a sphere and the weak point is always your limiter. When is the last time you did some focused accessory work for your pelvic floor?
3. Do extra midline & core “homework.”
Creating a strong core allows your spine to be protected and reduces the degree that positions feel threatening. The result is systemic tension and better distal mobility.
Here are some of the top accessory exercises for producing a strong core:
- Seated L-Sit Raises | L-Sit Holds
- Suitcase Carries
- Single Arm Dumbbell Bent Row
- Hollow & Arch Pulses & Holds
- Plank Variations
- Suitcase Deadlifts
- Front Lever Hold (FLR) on Low Rings
- Good Morning Holds
- Single Leg Dumbbell RDL
- Banded Cross Body Chop
- Half-Kneeling Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Press
- Single Leg Box Step-Down
Looking to make your own program?
Pick 2-3 of these exercises to complete after your workout.
Complete them 2-3 Times per Week for 3-5 Sets.
Do this consistently and you are well on your way to having better mobility.
Looking to use a program I made?
This program is built to fix asymmetries, add stability and ultimately help you improve your mobility.
Your workouts are intense & your body takes a toll.
Build a body that won’t break down when you go hard and fast.
The accessory work in Bulletproof Body focuses on 3 key avenues of development:
Add Muscle Size + Strength
Potent Protocols Stimulate Muscle Growth
Increase Mobility + Positions
Fix Asymmetries with Unilateral Work
Improve Tendon + Joint Health
Prevent Injury & Address Neglected Areas
Related Read: The Top 25 Accessory Exercises for Functional Fitness