Joint Specific Mobility Training for Adequate Control Through Full Ranges of Motion
We all know the muscular, neuromuscular, and endocrinal benefits associated with quality strength and flexibility training. But what if I told you that traditional strength training and flexibility work wasn’t enough?
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! 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.