In this third article of our series on getting rid of your stiff body, we discuss how and when to incorporate mobility into your program. To explore that topic, we have to discuss why the loss of mobility is so damaging.
First, your muscles are stupid. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. All of our muscles and bones are stupid, it’s our nerves that hold the wisdom of our body. If our nervous system is hindered or blocked in any way, it intrudes on our nervous system’s ability to “hear” information. If you think a chest press is just an exercise for your chest muscles, you’re sorely mistaken. While your body definitely uses the muscles of your chest to push, it also uses the stabilizing muscles of your spine, shoulders, arms, hands, core, hips and legs to carry out the movement. It’s a perfectly timed symphony of minute corrections that’s orchestrated by the feedback your brain gets from sensory organs. You will notice that babies started out really flexible and earn their strength through exploration, rather than the other way around. That’s because their bodies learn to respond to stress over time and exploration. Lets fast forward to your stiff body. Somewhere along the line you lost your mobility and as a result, your body began to lock itself down. If you never restore mobility, your system will never have the chance to reset.
Let that sink in.
If you never restore mobility, your system will NEVER have the chance to reset.
HOW AND WHAT
If you’re stiff or in pain, you may need to use a foam roller for roughly 30-90 seconds on tight muscles to allow them to release at the beginning of your session. When you create mobility by using your foam roller and stretching for an additional 30-90 seconds, you’ve created an environment where your body can learn a new firing pattern. Use this small window of opportunity to teach it something new. If you can’t reach overhead, you may need to foam roll your pecs, lats, upper traps, upper spine, then stretch these muscles, then lay on your back and reach overhead 5 times to teach your nervous system a new pattern.
The right combination should yield immediate improvements in movement. If it doesn’t, find a new strategy!
If you don’t feel incredibly stiff but notice that you have some problem areas, just do the system outlined above for the 1 or 2 problem areas you have and move on to your workout. Spending the 5-10 minutes to release your problem areas could mean the difference between a great workout and one that causes injury.
So we suggest the following for most people.
Foam Roll with a little static stretching for 30-90 seconds on each area at the beginning of the workout. If you’re advanced, trade these off for dynamic, low-weight exercises.
Incorporate mobility in to your exercise session if you have problem areas.
Use the same stretches and foam rolling to release tension post-workout.
Keep working on it, keep monitoring your progress and watch the success follow.