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When your mobility problem is really a strength problem

Mobility requires strength.

It also requires motor control.

Get those two elements right and mobility training becomes child’s play.

And that is a great term for it, Child’s Play.

Not to belittle it or its importance, but because kids are born “floppy” and a large part of the early years is spent developing the strength and motor control.

As adults, we often have the opposite problem, we’re tight and stiff rather than floppy. But we are still dealing with strength and motor control issues, just from a different perspective.

WHen we talk about mobility, we’re talking about controlled, graceful movement.

Think cat like.

Think of your favourite martial artist, gymnast, dancer

What we don’t mean is that floppy flexibility often seen in Tae Kwon Do and some Yoga styles.

Remember, we spent the first year of our lives moving away from floppy……

Mobility is control, it is stability in motion.

And for this to happen, we must have muscular strength available through the complete range. We must have the motor control to fire the muscles appropriately and the relax the muscles appropriately.

One method that has been around in the martial arts and acrobatics circles since day dot has recently become popularised again through the work of Andreo Spina and his bendy buddy, the legendary Hunter Cook.

If you haven’t watched Hunter in action, you’re in for a treat…

Doing mediocre things with epic music kinda makes them feel a little less mediocre. ⠀ I always joke around with my KINSTRETCH students that we can’t make KINSTRETCH pretty. There will never be a “faces of KINSTRETCH” on a banner in your local Lululemon. ⠀ You know which ones I’m talking about- the yoga girl smiling in her perfect asana. ⠀ Too bad everyone doing KINSTRETCH looks like they’re being tortured or about to poop their pants. ⠀ Anyways- I actually *like* how we don’t have to try and make a flow-y class. ⠀ Nothing wrong with flows. I just think it gets competitive to make them pretty and aesthetic. ⠀ Nothing is competitive in my KINSTRETCH class. ⠀ Everyone’s just working on themselves to #makeshitworknice (quote by Dr. Spina) ⠀ But- at the end of my personal practice- I occasionally like to just piece some isoMP’s together to make what appears to be a little flow. Not for the purpose of flowing. But just to check in and make sure shit is working nice. ⠀ Work on the parts. Then the sum of the parts will work nice. ⠀ The goal is to not get better at KINSTRETCH. The goal is to use KINSTRETCH as a tool so you can get better at whatever you want to get better at. ⠀ Sports. Flows. Lifting weights without pain. Picking up your kids. Whatever your activity is. KINSTRETCH is for you. ⠀ #HunterFitness #KINSTRETCH #controlyourself #entropywillonlyincrease #functionalrangeconditioning

A post shared by Hunter Cook (@hunterfitness) on Sep 21, 2018 at 6:29pm PDT

We’re talking about Lift Offs.

Here’s the idea, assume a position close to the one you’re trying to achieve. Lets say, as in the case of my muse for this post, you’re a Kettlebell Lifter who wants a better overhead position, so we get down into a childs pose but with our hands propped up onto an elevation. I use a punch bag laid down, you may use a foam roller or a bench……

The legend that is Kimberly Fox on her way to 66 reps of double 24kg Long Cycle

Push the chest towards the floor and feel that stretch as the thoracic extends and the arms are pushed towards the overhead. Now release that stretch until you’re around 10% away from your max end range (not exactly 10%, no need to get out a goniometer…….)

Now the magic, keeping the arm locked straight, lift it off the elevation. Try to hold for a second and lower it back. Do this a number of times, there is no magic number, just go until the control improves, the range increases, you feel muscles activating / warming up.

(I didn’t get a video yesterday, but I found this one, it’s the same stuff…)

Now retest that stretch, has it improved. Now get up and test your position, again in my example, grab a couple of kettlebells and jerk them overhead.

Has it improved?

If yes, then congratulations, you have increased your mobility by simply adding strength and motor control to your end range.

If it hasn’t, then there could be something else that needs dealt with, could be time for an assessment.

Try this with your foot on a ledge if you’re a kicker looking to kick higher. Try this in a straddle lifting one or both legs off the floor.

There’s an endless number of ways to play with this, but very often less is more. Pick one, maybe two areas you want to improve and focus there. This should be a very small area of the training, part of the warm up. Unless you’re looking for contortionist levels of flexibility that is….

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