The following is brought to you by Shawn Sprague, Head PT at OrthoSportsMED in Needham, MA.
Hi All! Checking in from sunny Rhode Island. I wanted to talk to you about an aspect of our training and conditioning programs that I think a lot of people are overlooking:
joint specific mobility and training for adequate control through full ranges of motion.
We all know the muscular, neuromuscular, and endocrinal benefits associated to quality strength and flexibility training. But what if I told you that traditional strength training and flexibility work wasn’t enough?
As a physical therapist for the past 8+ years, it is my belief that most people are missing joint specific mobility. And no,
flexibility and mobility are not the same thing. Just because you can get there, doesn't mean it's going to end well. Having adequate mobility means that you can
control the range of motion that your flexibility allows you to achieve.
Here's an example: Let’s say you can touch your toes. Great! But can you reach down to your shoes, brace your abs, keep your spine flexed with appropriate tension, and tie your shoelaces, without blowing your back out? This, my fitness friends, is the difference between mobility and flexibility.
It is my belief that a lack of mobility, and the subsequent inability to control range of motion, is what separates people who are constantly injured, and those who are not.
In order to understand what I am talking about in further detail, we have to go over three important concepts:
1) The Law of Specificity.
2) Length-Tension Curves.
3) Strength-Velocity Curves.
Just kidding. You can look those things up if I have piqued your interest (it is pretty cool stuff and actually pretty intuitive). Instead, I will do you a favor and summarize it all for you.
In order to facilitate a system that effectively and efficiently prevents injury, you have to train your muscles and joints in the positions where they are the most likely to get hurt!
And, as you can probably guess, you are most likely to get hurt in the positions where your muscles are the weakest and where your joints are the most poorly leveraged -- the beginning and end range of motion in a joint.
What other health benefits, aside from injury prevention, does this type of training facilitate? Well, unlike all other tissues in our bodies, our joints and articular cartilage have no direct blood supply. Instead, they receive oxygen and nutrition, and get rid of waste byproducts, through the movement and diffusion of the connective tissue surrounding it. Therefore, if you cannot move your joints through full ranges of motion, your joints will be deprived of adequate nutrition. A lack of adequate nutrition can lead to premature deterioration (arthritis). The key takeaway?
Joint health depends on adequate movement!
About a year ago, I attended a “Functional Range Conditioning” course, and a follow-up course known as “Kinstretch.” This was when my view of the fitness and rehabilitation world completely changed. Since then, I have been exposing my clients and physical therapy patients to this type of training, with tremendous improvements.
This type of training is certainly not an “end-all-be-all” system, but I think it is definitely a much-needed
complement to traditional strength training. I have tweaked the program considerably, based on my advanced rehab and physical therapy background, and those tweaks have allowed me to teach these movements to clients and patients of all fitness levels.
Before the shutdown, I was running about 4 small group classes a week at PEX in a program I founded called
Progressive Mobility. Since then, I have pivoted to a virtual setting, and it has been extremely successful. The best part about this type of training is that you do not need any equipment. All you need is a yoga mat and your body, and you will be more than able to train in a way that strengthens your muscles, improves your joint mobility, increases usable ranges of motion, improves body control, and decrease injuries!
Want to try a (free) Progressive Mobility Class?
Sign up for our class on Thursday at 6 PM
Reach out to me via text (401) 829-2784, or
Thank you for your time!