So aside from the fact that it was Canada Day weekend, meaning there was a whole lot of sleeping in and BBQ going on, I embarked on a journey into my attic to try to install a new bathroom fan in a house that currently has none. It’s less than pleasant work, especially given the fact that I don’t quite have the right build to crawl through a small attic without causing some seriously bodily harm. The good thing is I can duck walk like a champ and can move through the area with about as much ease and grace as any other 6’2″ 228 lb sack of awesome.
Now aside from the fact that I now have a gaping hole in my bathroom ceiling with a small motorized device attached to it, I have a small motorized device above a hole in my bathroom that doesn’t have any power as I wasn’t able to figure out how to run the wires through the walls into the switch. I have since had a brain storm (SMASH A NEW HOLE IN THE WALL!!!) which means I hope to have the project finished later this week. I also found out how important mobility is outside of athletic performance or corrective exercise (Note: I already knew that, but it was a good refresher).
Let’s say you’re currently reading this from the average cubicle farm that is now known as a corporate culture. You sit, jockeying the computer all day long and wind up becoming structurally strong to do so, losing mobility throughout the day and week and year and decade. This makes you really strong while on your tookiss at a desk, but when the weekend comes and your good ol’ buddy Dean asks you to help him in the attic for a house project, you wind up like the old lady on the Life Call button commercials.
For the most part, the average North American doesn’t need a lot of mobility on a day to day basis, which suits many of us just fine. However, trouble arises when a situation occurs that demands more mobility, such as rooting around through an attic, hauling a couch up or down stairs, or discovering certain pages in the Kama Sutra. In those situations, not having enough mobility could wind up causing injuries or simply abject embarrassment.
No one wants that.
As a result I tend to program a lot of mobility work for my clients, especially if they test low on a specific movement pattern or three. Most tend to need more thoracic and hip mobility through multiple planes and in between different planes with spiral movements. Since a lot of my clients come in to see me with some sort of muscle imbalance or movement impairment, I tend to work on restoring dysfunctional movement or lack of movement before we work on any type of strengthening to restore function. Gray Cook even says mobility has to come before stability, so I figure he’s a good guy to listen to.
The question then becomes how much mobility is too much mobility? Mike Boyle has said that the thoracic spine typically can’t have enough mobility, specifically through extension and rotation, and it’s hard to argue against a guy like Charlie Weingroff, who can back squat over 800 pounds and hit the splits on command.
I may not be able to crack it wide like Charlie, but I am about 3 inches from the floor in the front to back splits, and plan to tea bag the mats by the end of the year, while also being able to deadlift 500 pounds. I’m not there yet, but that would be pretty cool.
You will only use that which you have the ability to use. Once you get to the end of the line, you have to find another way. If your hips aren’t mobile enough for what you’re trying to do, your low back will inevitably take over, and it only has so much range of motion available to it before something bad happens. Likewise with your thoracic spine. At a certain point, holding your arms over head, like when cutting a ceiling tile out with a handheld Dremel tool, your shoulders will get tired, and if you can’t extend your thoracic spine, your rotator cuff will take a beating.
Mobility goes so much farther than simply static stretching, and if you’re serious about developing mobility, it has to be active as the mobility you;re hoping to use will tend to be active. Give some of these a try and see what you can do.
I’ll definitely throw down a video once I hit the splits, and I’ll also make sure I throw it down after pulling a heavy deadlift to show it’s possible, and probably more beneficial than being stiff and tight.
So here’s my challenge to everyone reading this right now. If you’re not already, and unless otherwise advised due to injury, start spending about 10 minutes a day on active mobility exercises, such as those shown above. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll lift heavier, feel better, and most importantly, start impressing the hell out of passing cheerleaders who want to check out your shit while you do your thang all over the gym.
Challenge part two is to pick up Post Rehab Essentials to learn more specific mobility drills for specific limitations and injuries. It’s on for only $129 for 12 hours of video, complete with NSCA CEUs, so it’s well worth the investment.