Monday, June 30, 2008

"Mobility Training May Be the Most Important Factor in ... Health" by Steve Maxwell

I wish that when I started my weight loss journey back in 2003, that I was using joint mobility exercises. My knees and ankles would have loved me! Unfortunately, it wasn't until I took Steve Maxwell's Joint Mobility Workshop this year that I was able to fully appreciate the importance of doing daily joint mobility (JM) exercises. What I also like about these types of exercises is that it's not about working you out as much as it is training and strengthening your joints and learning how your body moves.

Another great thing about JM exercises is that they can be done every morning after rolling out of bed. In all honesty fellas, those of you who are not exercising like you know you should be, will benefit greatly by incorporating JM exercises into your routine because they also increase your balance, which is a seldom discussed aspect of being healthy. Oh, and you can do these exercises no matter how conditioned, or de-conditioned, you are. So whether you see yourself as fat, chubby, or skinny, JM exercises are for you!

I practice joint mobility exercises that I've learned from Steve Maxwell and Paul Zaichik. Steve has posted his Maxwell Daily Dozen on his website in addition to his The Encylopedia of Joint Mobility Exercises DVD, and Paul has several DVDs and books that also discuss JM exercises and flexibility. The JM exercises that I learned from Paul is discussed on his DVD Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About Splits.

I hope that Coach Maxwell's post below, helps to convince you of the importance of JM training and its overall health-ful benefits. Enjoy!

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Mobility Training May Be the Most Important Factor in Musculoskeletal Health

By Steve Maxwell

Mobility, or joint mobility, is the ability to move a limb through the full range of motion--with control. Mobility is based on voluntary movement while flexibility involves static holds and is often dependent upon gravity or passive forces. Mobility demands strength to produce full-range movement, whereas flexibility is passive, thus not strength-dependent. Some authorities refer to mobility as 'active flexibility'. It is possible to have good mobility without being especially flexible, just as one can be flexible with poor mobility, i.e., control. Of the two, mobility is more important. It is better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility. The percent difference between your mobility and flexibility is the same percent chance of creating a musculo-skeletal injury during physical activities.

Sports, recreational activities and other daily physical practices can result in reduced range of movement in any participating joint. When the joint is unable to move through its full range, we call it compromised. When compromised movement is present in a joint, surrounding joints take up the slack, creating extra stress all around. A typical example are immobile ankles and feet underlying stress and injury to the knees, hips, and lumbar spine. It's a cascade effect, albeit in reverse: the body tissues are held together with sheets of connective tissue called fascia, so stress extends upwards from the feet. Poor mobility in one area can cause pain and stress in seemingly unrelated areas, but once fascial anatomy is understood, the idea that immobile feet could cause neck or shoulder stiffness is no longer a conundrum.

Mobility work reduces the potential body imbalances inherent in our athletic and recreational pursuits. For example, it's widely accepted that running for distance shortens the hamstrings, calf muscles and hip flexors, resulting in decreased free movement in simple full-range exercises, such as bodyweight squats. Well-documented is the compromised range produced by heavy weight-lifting and body building strength sports--yet, properly conducted, weight training can improve range of motion! All too often, in practice, weight lifters endow themselves with tight, restrictive movement by over emphasizing short-range movements and excessive hypertrophy. Worse, especially in the U.S., is that ubiquitous non-activity: sitting. Sitting in a chair, at a desk, while hunching over a computer is a recipe for a compromised structure full of imbalance and continual pain.

The solution? A joint mobility program. Joint mobility exercise stimulates and circulates the synovial fluid in the bursa, which 'washes' the joint. The joints have no direct blood supply and are nourished by this synovial fluid, which simultaneously removes waste products. Joint salts, or calcium deposits, are dissolved and dispersed with the same gentle, high-repetition movement patterns. Properly learned, joint mobility can restore complete freedom of motion to the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists and fingers. It's especially important to keep the spine supple and free and if there were such a thing as a fountain of youth, joint mobility exercises come very close.

Use mobility exercises as a warm up, an active recovery during other activities, or as a stand-alone workout. You can rejuvenate yourself and reclaim the movement of a child with a good joint mobility program. Joint mobility makes a wonderful, energizing morning recharge and sets the day up on the right foot.


Ranaesheart said...

Am exploring training for a half marathon and thanks to your advice, and information from you and Steven, believe it is most important for me to begin a JM program! Do you suggest this be done in conjunction with .. or before .. training?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Hello Ranaesheart and thanks for leaving me a comment/question. I would work on doing Steve Maxwell's daily dozen every morning. He suggests working up to eventually doing 50 reps of each exercise, but you can start with one or two reps! The key is to learn how the movements feel. Just take your time and when you hear cracking, don't think that you're hurting your joints. It's normal ...