I hate the word mobility. I just think it’s a garbage term. All it means is that you have the ability to move. Doesn’t tell me anything. I’m always looking at, “Let me actually measure you on a table. Let me see what range of motion your joints actually possess.”
If you have clear red flags from certain joints that are nowhere near human norms for a range of motion, it indicates to me that you do not possess the ability to execute certain movements biomechanically properly. I could try to coach you or come up with drills for you from now until the cows come home.
Either I’m able to unlock this motion and give you the ability to have human norms for a range of motion, for ankle, shoulder, hip, knee, whatever, or not. I have to make that determination first. Like, do you have the ability? Do you right now, lack human norms for motion at this joint? Can I create a drill that gives you back human norms?
If I can, great. That drill’s probably a good activity for you to do, prior to doing something that would require that specific range of motion to be able to execute. Like if someone has zero degrees of ankle dorsiflexion and they want to do full depth squatting, you can’t. I’m sorry.
You’re a nice person and everything. You just physically cannot do this activity. If I can conjure up a drill that for you gives you this motion back, and I can measure it and see that now you possess 10 degrees of ankle dorsiflexion that’s sufficient for full range squatting, by all means, let’s learn how to squat properly and now train the squat.
I just look at things from the perspective of like, step number one, what is the task and trying to accomplish? What motions from joints around your body do you need to complete this task as close to optimal as possible? Are there giant red flags of, on your measurements that would contraindicate your ability to do this activity?
If yes, can we create drills that give you those motions? If we can give you drills that give you back those motions, it doesn’t mean you know how to do the task properly. It just gives you entry into motor learning 101 for the task. Now I have to coach you on how to do this task.
Now the cool thing is if this is a task whose prerequisite is to have certain ranges of motion, and you’re doing the task properly, guess what? You no longer need mobility work in the future going forward because the task itself is the mobility work.
You should hold onto those ranges of motion if you’re doing this properly. Your brain should remember these things and have a dominant response that executes the task with those joints moving a certain amount of degrees.
To me, the people that I see always doing extreme amounts of mobility work are usually the people that already possessed the prerequisite ranges of motion. They’re good at demonstrating flexibility. They like doing flexibility. They like to show off. It makes them feel good.
It’s like you already have what it takes. Just do the goddamn thing and train it. If you do that now, tell me what your goals are. Are your goals to just be the mobility king? Because you already have that, but you’re verbally telling me that your goal is something else.
Your goal is to squat more, deadlift more, whatever the hell it is, and you’re not following the systematic path towards that, which you’re vocalizing is your goal. Either what you’re telling me is not what you feel, or your awareness about what the path is to this is off.
I think that the question relates more towards like that primarily is the discussion point. Like, “Is this someone that is just trying to demonstrate that they’re…?” Some people assume that they think that they’re going to look smart if they’re doing all these mobility drills. Who cares? What do you want?
It’s probably not to be, like you said, the best at warming up. I feel like Kenny Powers with that answer.
Dr. Shallows: I think it’s just hard to get strong, and that’s where people are like, “Oh, this is the game, and now let’s play it, and I’ve got to get stronger.” Now it’s like, “No. I’d rather just roll around with across roll and show how well I can actively internally rotate when I’m in a 90-90 position.
“That’s adorable. Could you please move aside while the real adults try and actually get strong?” They get. It’s like you can’t out corrective exercise, bad exercise. To Pat’s point about, look, you now have the base level code in which to perform this skill properly. You have the requisite range of motion.
It does not mean you are then guaranteed and warranted, then license the ability to perform this exercise properly, but you can’t single leg RDL. You’re way too good squat mechanics. It’s like you have to know how to squat. You can do that and it can prove some functional prerequisites.
It’s the hip stability or ankle dorsiflexion or whatever, but when the rubber hits the road, you have to put all these moving parts together in series and improper timing and execute the damn thing. I just think the execution of the damn thing is the hard part. People are like, “Oh, I got to do all that. Oh, that looks heavy. I’m just going to keep folding and rolling.