I personally love questions. I could have an entire conversation with someone by only asking them questions. From the other persons perspective, that usually gets stale after a while. Unless of course they just adore talking about themselves.
So I recently read an article that caught my attention. It was discussing different training strategies for strength training such as;
- High frequency vs. low frequency workouts
- High intensity vs. low intensity exercises
- High frequency & low intensity training
- High intensity & low frequency training
I couldn’t help but think this could very easily be applied to understanding mobility training. People looking to improve movement, usable ranges of motion, improve joint health, etc.
So what are the 6 questions you should ask yourself to better understand mobility training? They are in the following three categories.
Regardless of the topic (powerlifting, yoga, hypertrophy, etc.) people will always debate the frequency you need to practice something in order to get better at it. So what about mobility? What is mobility? Mobility refers to the amount of USABLE motion that one possesses in a joint. With that in mind, consider this.
- What do you spend your time doing?
Really analyze what an average week looks like for you. Is most of your day being sedentary? There are 168 hours in a week. If only 2/168 hours are spent being physically active, you need to at east acknowledge how lop sided of a ratio that is.
2. Are you aware of the law of entropy?
The law of entropy is the 2nd law of thermodynamics (which I pretend to be no expert on). This definition however I think is very valuable.
“There is a natural tendency of any isolated system to degenerate into a more disordered state”
I think it’s fair to say that this concept applies to the human body and our connective tissue. So down on a cellular level the body’s default is to become slightly worse overtime.
I would recommend high frequency for mobility training. Building a bigger foundation for healthy joints today will be an asset for us in the future.
Nobody wants to roll out of bed and start some HIIT and immediately ramp up to your 90% maxHR. At the same time, doing a couple arm & leg circles for 8–15 seconds doesn’t do anything for you. There must be a happy medium.
- What does your life demand from you?
If the physical demands of your job take most of the energy out of you, then we just have to work with that. No judgment here. Consistency is important when making change in the tissues, so don’t be discouraged if you only have energy for low intensity training for a little while. Every session is a positive drop in the bucket, where every drop counts.
2. What is your current fitness level?
If you’re always sore from a physical job, then low intensity movement practices & cardio can help boost the bodies ability to recover. Overtime (don’t rush this part) as you get better at recovering, that will give you a bigger window of opportunity to increase your training. On the flip side, if your day-to-day tasks aren’t physically demanding then consider yourself to be a blank canvas. Both can benefit you as long as the intervention is appropriate.
Everybody can accomodate and benefit from including low intensity mobility training into their routine. Everyone should be building towards high intensity, but not everybody will be ready for it on day one, and that’s okay!
There is a lot of confusion around what is a ‘mobility exercise’ vs a ‘regular exercise’, or is there even a difference? Remember, the general defintion for mobility is the amount of USABLE motion that one possesses in an articulation. There are many different aspects to consider when training to improve that quality. So it’s more accurate to say it’s a thought process that can be applied to any exercise.
- Are your current exercises enough?
Let’s talk about the hip as an example. Here is every movement the hip can go through; internal rotation, external rotation, flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, circumduction. If any one of those movements are neglected in your training, the health of your hip will slowly get worse overtime. Maintaining a good amount of range of motion over time is good for joint health.The exact amount of range of motion you need at a joint is dependant on the activities/lifestyle you chose.
2. Internal vs External Loading?
If you’re new to mobility training, you will likely be training in ranges that are new and/or unfamiliar to you. In these cases, internal loading is much more appropriate at first. An example of internal loading is when you give someone a very tight handshake, so much that you start to feel it in your forearm, elbow and bicep area. Those kind of internal efforts are much safer than adding dumbbells, barbells, plates, etc. to your exercises. External loading can be great — but it has to be appropriately timed.
Regardless of your goal, every body should be moving/training each joint through full pain free ranges often. Doing mobility exercises using internal loading strategies like irradiation are incredibly undderrated.