Stretching, Recovery & Mobility Work

When we think of training or working out we usually associate that with high intensity movements in the gym.  However your workout routine should include some mobility work.  This is just as important if not more important that your high intensity training.  Mobility work can include various techniques used to allow and/or get certain joints in your body to move properly.  Mobility work can be more important than your workout because if you cant move properly you are; limiting yourself, more prone to injury and compensating for the lack of mobility by using other muscles.  For every 60 minutes you spend training, you should set aside 15 minutes for mobility work.  As I stated before there are a lot of techniques we can use to mobilize various parts of our body, one of which you may be familiar with is foam rolling.  For a more complete list of techniques I would recommend checking out the book “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Dr. Kelly Starett.  This book is the complete head to toe manual on the subject.  However if you don’t want to shell out 30 bucks for the book or the library doesn’t have a copy for you to check out that’s ok, because I got you covered on the basics.

To roll out there are a couple tools you could use in case you don’t have a foam roller;

  • Barbell (deeper and more precise than a foam roller)
  • Lacrosse ball
  • 2 lacrosse balls taped together (can roll out you back on either side of your spine)
  • weighted rolling (sitting down place weights on target areas of your body)
  • Roll out lats on a ball standing up against the wall
Each mobility session focus on three target areas, such as;
  • mobilize the shoulder
    • shoulder capsule mobilization, 2 min per arm (lying flat on back holding weight one arm above head rotating shoulder up and down)
    • overhead banded distractions (hold resistance band above head, keep arms straight and rotate shoulders forward and back)
  • mobilize bottom of squat
    • squat with towel rolled up behind knees
  • Undo sitting

In regards to static stretching I do not discourage it, I just discourage it prior to working out.  Your pre workout warm up should include dynamic stretching to get your heart rate up.  Static stretching or “lengthening”  your muscle is not a bad thing if you have the motor control to support the end range position and you are expressing those end range positions with load bearing full range exercises.  In other words, you must develop the strength to handle the new stretch position so when you encounter that new position during high intensity exercise you do not injure yourself.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to mobility work and recovery methods.  I encourage you to take this information as a starting point to further develop and figure out what sort of mobility work you need to protect yourself.  Start small and don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to much.  At the very least, the basics are a good starting point (rolling out).

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