The push for mobility work in the fitness and rehabilitation world today is strong. From people who are relentless searching for more mobility, to those who utilize them “just because you’re supposed to,” I ask you…why? Why are you doing mobility work? Do you really even need to?
Stop the Fear Mongering
Excessive mobility work plagues the industry, plain and simple. What once started as good intentions to help people reduce the risk of injury during their heavy lifting, has turned into people salivating to perform every new mobility drill they come across. Why?
Here's the truth. It’s easy to tell people they are “dysfunctional” and that they NEED to do specific mobility drills or they will wreck themselves under a loaded barbell. This is called fear mongering people…and I'm not a fan of that! If you possess the necessary, pain-free range of motion to perform an activity, what's the point of mobilizing it before? Shouldn't actually doing the lift suffice?
If you aren’t involved in a sport that requires specific areas of increased mobility and you are able to squat to depth, why are you doing hip mobility drills? If you’re able to press overhead with good form pain-free, why are you doing drills to try and increase shoulder internal rotation?
This time could be better spent…actually doing progressively loaded exercises that cause structural change!
A 4-Step Framework to Training with Pain
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Who Needs Mobility Work?
If you can perform your desired movement with good form and no pain, there’s no need for targeted mobility work, but what do we do when something DOES cause discomfort?
Mobility drills are EXCELLENT when discomfort is involved. Does your upper back feel stiff during the overhead press? Thoracic extension or rotation drills would be a great option to perform immediately before to help temporarily unlock some pain-free mobility.
Is your ankle "pinching" at the bottom of your squat? Performing banded ankle dorsiflexion mobs, as seen below, immediately prior to loading can work wonders!
If something aches, and it prevents you from performing the loaded exercise pain-free, THIS is when we utilize mobility work. Mobility work temporarily opens a threat-free "window of opportunity." It's your job to solidify this temporary increase in mobility with LOAD.
For any of those who follow me, you know that I do post a variety of mobility drills so please do not misconstrue my message. Mobility drills ARE important. I even keep a growing database of these drills right HERE to help people who experience discomfort during their barbell lifts. HOWEVER, if you are excited to just try out the latest drill "just because it looks cool" stop wasting your time!
If your form is solid on your major lifts and they don't hurt to perform, skip the mobility drills and get under that bar and just load it!