By now most of you would have heard of this duo once or twice in the context of rehab and/or performance. This blog is to cut through the fluff and help you get a better understanding of what everyone (including us) keeps talking about.
- Breathing is the key
- Stretching ≠ improving mobility
- You need to be stable to be mobile
Mobility vs flexibility – what’s the difference?
Mobility is different to flexibility. Flexibility is passive and Mobility is active. I am a perfect example of this. When someone puts me into position I have a ton of passive internal rotation of the femur, but when I try to get there myself I cramp really fast.
Remember stretching only has a short term effect. The real thing that will improve your mobility is learning how to move properly. We all know by now that we are stuck in certain patterns and postures. For example, I am super extended with a duck butt (anterior pelvic tilt). What that means is that my center of gravity is naturally tipped forward. This adds more pressure on my ankles and decreases my dorsiflexion. I can do all the ankle stretches in the world, but until I learn how to get out of my duck butt by learning how to stack I might as well hit my head against a brick wall.
Are my ankles tight or am I just shit at squatting?
The majority of the time people blame their ankles on their poor coordination. Remember squatting like every movement is a skill, just like how a musician has to practice for years to be good at their craft we too need to practice getting into positions. The most important factor for getting into these positions is being able to stay stacked and subsequently use the prime movers of the exercise.
The stability we talk about is in the context of strength-skill and force production, and less in the terms of bosu balls. The more stable you can be, the less energy is lost unnecessarily. This is where I introduce to you a new concept called ‘proximal to distal’. I mentioned it before in the ankle mobility example.
Put it simply, the more stable your spine can be, the more force you can transfer through your hands and/or feet. Or put it another way: the less stable the hip and scapular the more jacked up the ankles and forearms are. This is mitigated through a good quality rib-cage and pelvic stack.
So what is a stack?
A stack is when you are able to get into and maintain a neutral spine throughout a movement. An effective brace is only properly utilized when you have stacked your hips and ribs over one another. Take a look at the examples below, can you spot which one is incorporating a proper stack?
The most effective way that we teach people how to stack their hips and ribs is through breathing drills. Now, I know what you are thinking: “I have been breathing my whole life, why the hell do I need to be taught how to breathe”. Throwback to my previous blog, we know that we are stuck in certain positions. Breathing drills are a great tool that we use to ‘reset’ our posture. It teaches you what neutral feels like and allows you to know how to brace properly. This is explained further in our Training Fundamentals course that is available on our website.
Hopefully this will help you to do some problem solving of your own – if you have a pesky ankle or wrist, focus on getting stronger rather than stretching till the cows come home.