This was a question put to me by one of the guys attending Sunday’s Kettlebell Workshops.
At the start of the workshop we do a simple joint mobility set to prepare the body for the work to follow. The set has been put together from a variety of sources some direct influences on us via our martial arts pedigree and coaches we’ve trained under, others we have only come across through the wonders of the internet. We’ve tried out a multitude of joint mobility exercises, tested them on ourselves and our clients and over the years we’ve streamlined the set into a simple easy to use standard program. Of course, we add to it as we see fit. In the Level 2 workshop we add to it, in Level 3 we introduce loaded mobility and the regulars at my classes will have experienced a wide range of drills. But we keep coming back to the tried, tested and simple. Because it does it’s job.
What is it’s job? Well it’s called joint mobility, it does exactly what the title suggests, it mobilises the joints. When the joints move (and only when they move) the body releases synovial fluid into the joint which brings lubrication and nutrition into the joint. No movement, no lubrication. No movement, no nutrition. It’s bit like a car engine. The engine needs oil to run smoothly, but oil is only pumped round the engine once the engine is running. The joints are moved by the muscles, so by moving the joints we stimulate the blood flow into the muscles. This gently warms the body and gently increases the elasticity of the muscles.
So it’s a good thing.
It certainly serves to keep myself and the other Wild Geese instructors moving. If you ever wonder how we seem so indestructible, daily joint mobility is a big part of the answer (the other part of the answer is our sheer awesomeness, but you already knew that….)
When asked how much to do, we always answer, lots.
But can you do too much?
Honestly I don’t believe so. Unless you do so much that it gets in the way of your other training. You still need to lift heavy things, jump, run, throw, hit and stretch, it can’t all be joint mobility, you must have balance. The fact that we emphasise daily, twice or thrice daily practice is largely because the general population is so bound up and immobile, or the training population is so bound up and messed up through specialised training, it is badly needed. Just not at the expense of everything else.
As we age we require more and more of these type of work. If we lead a largely sedentary lifestyle, we should definitely look for any opportunity to practice. As a rule of thumb each exercise should be practised for 1 rep per year of your life, so in my case I ought to aim for 34 reps per drill. of course this is merely a guideline and you should work according to the feedback your body is giving you. Any tight areas should be given priority over more mobile areas. There are certain mobility drills we avoid with certain people, but these are few and far between.
The basic set we recommend is demonstrated in the following video clip, which I filmed and posted as a response to one of our older clients commenting that by adopting daily mobility work she now felt 10 years younger.
Just remember that the joint mobility must by balanced with strength training to create stability. What ever form of strength training you enjoy, be it kettlebell lifting, bodyweight training, power lifting or any combination is fine.
Anything done to excess is harmful, anything done our of balance has the potential to damage. So add joint mobility to your day, build up the volume of it slowly over time, but try to get your reps done every day. But most of all try to maintain balance in your training as you should in all other aspects of your life.
Don’t forget: Steve Cotter will be in Ireland teaching his CKT Levels 1 and 2, these include the most up to date kettlebell lifting information available as well as Steve’s own blend of training styles, one of which is his martial arts based Joint Mobility program. For more details CLICK HERE