The Great Mobility Delusion

Stretching.  Foam rolling.  Self-myofascial release with torture devices (ouch!).  Kin tape.  Becoming a supple leopard. Functional Movement Screen (FMS) or Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).  Yoga.  Pilates.  Mobility class or day at gym.

The word mobility itself has definitely become a buzzword in the exercise field, all the way from CrossFit to yoga to endurance athletes.  It is harped on nonstop and its benefits are stressed on a daily basis.  I hear it from clients all the time – “I need better mobility.”

I give people a ton of credit; they work their butts off almost every day to get “better” mobility.  They even go a great length to really “get in there deep” and smash the hell out of some muscles.  It may hurt like hell, but that means it’s working right?

Unfortunately no.

Back to the title of this post – The Great Mobility Delusion.  People spend way too much time “trying” to improve their mobility with all the methods listed above.  Yes, they all do something to improve mobility.  The problem is that they don’t last very long. When you do any of the above mentioned mobility methods, they allow a temporary window to open in your muscle/body where you do have an improvement in mobility.  This happens because you stimulate pressure receptors inside your muscles that allow them to relax in a short time period, thus opening up a temporary window so you can perform and train.

The problem here is that it does nothing to actually improve the function of the muscle, but just gives a false feeling that you are actually making a lasting change in the muscle.  So the next day you do all of that work again, but it seems like it took longer this time and hurt just a little bit more.  But you gotta get that mobility right!

At the end of the day in order to move better, you need to have better bio-mechanics.  None of the above mentioned methods of mobility do that in a lasting or sustained way.  So, yes, the idea of good mobility is in fact a delusion if you are trying to use the above mentioned “tools” to fix it.  If you are dealing with an injury, all of these tools go completely out the window, as they do nothing to fix the problem.

So it may seem like I am bashing all of that stuff.  It’s not bashing, just bringing to light that if you spend more time “working” on mobility than you do actually doing the workout, then the chances are, it isn’t the right tool for you.

So what are the above-mentioned things good for?

They’re perfect for a good warm-up (8 to 10 minutes) before a workout to get things moving in the right direction and to prepare for the work ahead.

What shouldn’t they be used for?

Trying to fix an injury!