The best thing about running a community is, that the voices of the members will always be heard.
Due to the opinion poles in our Facebook group, you prefer blog post and training programs, and in specific most of you preferred learning about mobility training.
Learning and methodology is always more important than training programs. So don’t always ask for programs. Ask for learning. Then you are able to understand the underlying science and know-how about when to train what, and why.
Today I will give you the know-how.
Almost all physical training is based on adjusting to the individual, and there is rarely a recipe fitting all.
To me it seems that mobility training is the exception. Of course all individuals vary in their mobility/flexibility level, but the recipe of becoming more flexible is the same for all.
To the degree of my current level of knowledge I would consider my self as an expert within mobility/flexibility training. And I want to make you an expert as well.
Points below are important when planning your mobility sessions, and those I will communicate today:
- Mobility vs. Flexibility
- Stretch intervals
- Strength load
- Recovery period
- Before/after/separate from training?
The terms mobility and flexibility are often mentioned together but are not entirely identical.
The term mobility is dealing more with the ability of movement. To be able to move.
The term flexibility is only dealing with the ability to stretch joints and muscles. Therefore the range of motion (ROM) in the body’s different directions of movement.
I never teach those separately, because in our performance we need both. We need to be able to move in greater directions, but we need to be strong in those directions as well.
A person who only trains for flexibility might be very flexible, but do not increase their ability to perform in these directions. They are even weaker in these increased directions and have higher odds of getting injured, then they had in their former level of flexibility. How do you avoid that?
Follow this 3-step guideline every time you want to train for mobility:
- Massage the surrounding muscles (foam roller as a tool)
- Do the wanted stretches
- Activate the surrounding muscles in their full stretch level (range of motion)
Let’s have an example: – You want to increase your hamstring mobility. Foam roll this muscle. Stretch the muscle as must as relevant. The muscle is now more flexible, but it’s not stronger.
Therefore when mobility training is over, you end the session by activating the muscle. Nordic Hamstring is a proper exercise, except that is extremely hard, and not acceptable for all, but this is an example. Do this exercise a few times from bottom to top, and you increased the strength in the new length of the muscle and got both more flexible and more mobile.
Stretch intervals should be on 30-120sec. A lot of the effects coming from flexibility training is actually the nervous system learning/accepting to relax, which in the end makes you more flexible. So the more time you spend in your positions, the faster the body accepts the temporary pain. Breathing techniques are advantageous as well.
For an athlete there is a point to consider. Spending time in longer stretches also increase the loads on your joints, which might cause smaller extension the recovery period.
Stretch load; the feeling of pain caused by the stretch in the muscle should be on about 90-95% of total pain. You should feel as must stretch as you are able to endure in the stated period of time in the stretch. Be aware that the stretch pain will decrease the more you do the stretch. Even within 5 minutes.
That’s also why you can make extraordinary mobility results within a very short amount of time, if you do it correct and learn how to relax.
– Remember that the body is the mind.
I would assert that you can do mobility training almost every day. As an athlete you’re almost in constant recovery, so you should respect this a bit more.
Your joints might hurt or feel sore sometimes; just like the muscles, and by that you need to take a break on one or more days. Otherwise you might end up with an injury.
When should you do mobility training before another training session, like strength training for instance?
– It’s always a good idea to do mobility training before any other training session. This should just be dynamic stretches instead of the static stretches as mentioned above. Dynamic stretches is stretches in movement, often with a stretch length on 3-5sec.
The purpose of this prior to training is to open up your body and increase your mobility to your current level, and not increase long-term mobility.
When should you do mobility training after another training session?
– When you want to increase your long-term mobility and not let the current training cause your joints and muscles to get stiff, it is a good idea to end the session with mobility training. Here it is acceptable to do both static and dynamic stretches, knowing that the static stretches will affect long-term mobility a lot more and dynamic stretches.
When should you do mobility training separately from other training sessions?
– When the primary goal is increase in long-term mobility or recovery. Take your time and relax into each stretch following the recipe above.
Add for instance a trip to infrared sauna before or after and other self-care on those days, which will complement the results from the training.
Take my 15mins Yoga class for increased long-term mobility →