Are You Doing Enough in the Gym? Part 2

Posted: June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

In case you missed it you can see Part 1 of this series here.  In Part 2 we briefly dig into the topic of mobility.

“First move well, then move often.” – Gray Cook

Mobility is the ability to produce a desired movement. While we’re here, we’ll throw stability into the equation too.  Stability is the ability to resist an undesired movement and is used in combination with mobility to produce movement.

Our bodies are a stack of joints that require a combined amount of stability and mobility to produce proper movement.  If one of these components is not up to par, the entire system can be compromised.  This is, in very simple terms, what is known as the Joint by Joint Approach to Training coined by strength coach Michael Boyle and the afore quoted Gray Cook (a couple of those really smart dudes).

Sometimes compensation between joints happens in a very noticeable way, and sometimes it does not.  For example, one of the most common issues we see across the board is reduced mobility in the hips.  When this happens, the range of motion and movement that is required to complete a movement is still needed somewhere in the system.  The human body is great at adapting to create the movement it needs, so it will find mobility wherever it can.  The unfortunate part is that it will usually find the mobility it needs in places that are supposed to be more stable.

So if someone has less than ideal mobility in their hips, the body will compensate by creating more mobility at the knees or lower back.  The problem that arises is that both of those areas need more stability than mobility.  Since our bodies are also very resilient, pain doesn’t always occur right away.  If we continue to move with compensated patterns like the one above, pain and/or injury is usually bound to follow.

Do yourself a favor and read that last sentence again.  In fact, read it twice.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait….

You could be potentially setting yourself up for future injury and not even know it.  The absence of pain is not always an indicator that all systems are go for launch.  In fact, you may be sitting on an issue that could ground your shuttle for a while.

And then how the hell is Bruce Willis supposed to save the world?  What’s wrong with you?? Do you WANT the world to end?

I’m kidding.  That’s ridiculous.  I know you don’t want the world to end.  Not until you finish reading this, at least.  Ha.  Ha.

Ok.  We don’t want the world to end, so where do we start?  In all honesty, the best thing you can do is find a practitioner, strength coach, trainer or anyone who can administer a movement assessment.  This would give you a real specific idea of what you need to work on.  Since it might take you awhile to set up an appointment with someone and it may be even harder to find someone you trust, I’ll give you some things you can work on your own in the meantime.

The following link takes you to a set of stretches that are designed by Gray Cook and are intended to piggyback off his assessment system, the Functional Movement Screen (more info here).   Try not to think of them as stretches for one particular area as they are designed to actually show you what needs to be stretched in order to begin moving properly.  Gray also touches on muscle imbalances in the video and we will get to those in more detail a little further down the road.

Gray Cook’s Bretzel Stretches

Try to get these in once a day, or at the very least before you do anything active.  Combine them with the squat stretch from part 1 and you should be on your way to achieving good mobility through your hips and thoracic spine (upper back).  Two areas that are most commonly hampered by poor mobility and the cause for a number of pain related issues.

That’s it for Part 2.  I’ll cover more specific mobility issues as this blog matures, so if you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will try to get to them in the coming weeks.  Part 3 will be up shortly covering basic movement patterns.

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