Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

Specific Mobility

by GEOFFN on March 27

I do a lot of mobility work–A LOT. 

But, with the gut not working properly, the left hip hasn’t worked in who knows how long–probably since ’07, maybe early ’08. That’s a lot of time to be “disconnected.”

So, I haven’t been “able” to do lunges or pistols well for quite some time. Pistols have been off the radar since Christmas break, when I was grinding on both knees. I got some in with the 12kg last night–far cry from the 48kg, that’s for sure. Gotta start back somewhere though.

But tonight was well, just frustrating. After some really good, high quality front squats, which worked everything–quads, hams, glutes, calves–I came home and did some stationary lunges. Quite honestly, they were pathetic. Talk about SMA! My body and I had no idea where we were in space or time.  It was nuts. 

This brings me to a point Dr. Cobb brought up on Day 6 of the last R-Phase: Mobility is also position-specific. This seems like a simple point, but oh how many of us miss it in our own training or even with our clients? (OK, I admit, I’m very good with my clients, but tend to think I don’t need it for myself, for whatever reason…) Just because I can squat, doesn’t mean I can lunge. And boy, can I NOT lunge well. 

Tonight I had to hold onto a chair in front of me and literally re-position my hips on what seemed to be every rep. By my third set though, things started to get better. The usual knee pain that accompanies these buggers had started to dissipate, not because I started to “warm up,” but because I finally started to “feel” where I was supposed to be. It was crazy how much blood started to rush into the muscles once I started to get the rhythms right–just bodyweight fried the legs.

Now, this may seem  like bad news because I suck so bad at performing these things, BUT the good news is that there is plenty of room for improvement, which of course means, that once I start loading these puppies, I can slap some major muscle back onto my legs and fill out my weight category, 105kg. (So far, I’m sitting around 99kg-ish…)

But that brings me back to this whole position specific mobility concept. How often do we take for granted one or two movements and extrapolate performance in other movements? Like the squat for example? The reality is that the SAID principle must always be applied to our training and the only way to truly get better at something is to practice it as close to perfection as possible (My, how the “mighty” have fallen–I just recalled that I used to be able to routinely lunge between 225lbs-315lbs on my back…) then load it and keep going. But we must also constantly check that the whole system is mobile and fluid, allowing for that “perfect” movement, because you never know what’s going to aid in mobility, and as usual, “specific” mobility may not be “specific” to the affected area. 

Here’s a perfect example: Tonight I was with my first client I ever started training when we moved to Durham. We’ve been training on and off for 8 and a half years, through 2 knee surgeries and post-rehab. She was experiencing some mild pain just above her right hip, between the hip and the ribs while performing 2 hand swings. We would possibly surmise that some specific hip work or foot work might help. Nope (skipped the hip). The “fix?” A little bit of neck work, but the big payoff was lateral jaw glides to the left. Bingo–hey Presto! And we kept on swinging. 

Again, what’s the point? 

Mobility work not only enhances strength training, it is strength training (creating increased ROM about a joint produces greater muscular activation in muscles surrounding that joint), increases proprioception, and is specific to specific movements so it’s probably in our best interest to train that way.

I think I’ll write more in depth on this later. It’s an interesting topic for sure.

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