We talk about "mobilizing" all the time. Do you really
know what that is and why we do it though? Is it when we mash
our deltoids with a lacrosse ball? Is it stretching our calf
on the pole? Is it working our quads over with a bar?
Is it stretching our hamstrings with the strap? Is it opening
up our hip capsule with the band?
Notice the questions above that said "stretching" for the calf and
the hamstring. That isn't quite what I would consider
"mobilizing". Stretching primarily focuses on lengthening
tight and short muscles. This is a good thing and needs to be
done, BUT if those muscles aren't moving properly the chances of
getting them to lengthen are much less. That is where
"mobilizing" comes in.
Our muscles are supposed to glide past one another. This
gliding can become inhibited when we are constantly working out and
moving heavy loads, or when we are sitting in one position at a
desk all day, or when we sleep in the fetal position for 8+ hours a
night, or when we carry our body in a non-neutral position...the
list goes on and on. This causes our muscles to become
"glued" together. They are now moving as one unit rather than
separately. So, when we go to lengthen those shortened
muscles, it's like trying to stretch a brick versus a rubber
band. Pretty impossible. Following me?
I'm going to steal a definition of mobility from the mobility
god, Kelly Starrett.
"Mobilization is a movement-based integrated full-body
approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and
performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue
restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems,
joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In
short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and
I have found through my own training in the last year that if
I'm having some performance issues (non-skill related) it is 99.9%
of the time a mobility issue. If I'm coming forward on my
squat, my calves are usually bound up. If I'm having
stability issues with my lumber on my deadlift, my hips are a bit
impinged. Athletes are strong and our bodies find ways to
continue to do these movements over and over without proper
mobility and that ends up compromising something else, and that
something else and so on and so on...which results in poor movement
patterns and ulitimately injury.
So, now that we understand more of what mobility is, here are a
few examples of some mobility exercises I hit daily BEFORE my
workouts. If I am having problems with other things I will
for sure focus on them, but these are my go-to's. I also will
spend more time on the joints that I know I will be using for that
workout. So if I'm squatting that day, I will spent more time
on my hips. For a WAY more in depth explanation and
variations, head to www.mobilitywod.com, type in
the search engine what you're having issues with and Kelly will
provide you with magic to get you feeling better in no time.
I can't say these are going to feel "good", but I can promise you
that if you make this part of your regular routine your life will
be way better!
*For these, you will need a softball, lacrosse ball and a foam
roller (the denser the better...i actually use a PVC pipe or even
sometimes my Kleen Kanteen. There are SO many other things
you can do, but this gets you started and they can be done almonst
Back- With the foam roller perpendicular to your back, starting on
your low back, roll up and down/side to side on your erectors (the
muscles along the sides of your spine up until about your shoulder
blades. After that get into your T-Spine but have your hips
up and arms hugging across your chest. Do the same thing roll
up and down/side to side. Then spend some time on the T-Spine
(shoulder blade level) with your arms over your head. If you don't
feel enough of a stretch here you can hold onto a weight (start
light to see how it feels) to open up a bit more.
Lats- Laying on your side with your bottom arm overhead, place
the roller on the side of your armpit. Roll up and down/side
to side from your lats to your triceps (side of back to back of
arm). I find it pretty hot right in my armpit area,
especially when I roll the roller more toward my back on that
Quads/ITBand - Laying with roller under front of thighs, roll up
and down/side to side from hip to knee. Then switch position
so you're on the roller on the outside of your hip with the other
leg crossed over top to help control movement. Roll up and
down/side to side from hip to knee.
Adductors - Put one leg across roller so inside of leg is
on top of roller. Roll up and down insdie of leg from knee to
groin. (sorry the picture is sideways).
Psoas - Lay on your stomach on a hard surface. Starting just
inside your hip bone (basically on your bladder), put the softball
between you and the floor. Lay down with as much pressure as
you can handle. You are going to SLOWLY roll the ball up the
side of your stomach until you reach your ribs. Go up and down and
side to side. If you don't feel this then you're not
human...this is usually a doosie!
Glutes/Hips - Sit one glute on the ball and roll all around this
guy making sure to spend more time on the spots you really feel
it. Roll to the side of the hip as well and just mash all
around in there.
Deltoids/Pecs - Lay on stomach with lacrosse ball between chest
(pecs) and floor. Roll up and down/side to side all over
entire pec. Follow this by getting into the front of the
shoulder. Then lay on your side with ball under your shoulder
to get medial deltoid. Again same thing on the back of
shoulder. With each of these you can change your arm angle
from reaching behind to the small of your back and the full
movement until it's over your head.
Some things to keep in mind.
1- Make sure to spend time on the "spicy" spots as those are the
ones that need the most work.
2- Spend AT LEAST 1 min on each one...more is always better.
With that said, don't fall asleep or stay in one place for
hours...that would be bad. I ususally try to go until I feel
3- The body is a complicated thing and there's a lot going
on. Not everyone is going to have the same issues, so if you
don't seem to be hitting an area you feel needs work, then please
use Kelly's website or please feel free to contact me.
4- Doing this once in a while isn't going to do it. These
need to become part of your regular routine (especially the ones
that you notice help your body). I mobilize in the morning
when I get up, right before my workouts, and also at night before
going to bed. You can do it while catch up with your family,
while you watch TV...stop sitting on the couch and instead start