Do you find yourself quoting phrases like, "No pain, no gain" or "Go hard or go home"? Do you believe that soreness is the proof of an effective workout? Are you pushing through pain and discomfort, trying to improve your movement or weight lifted, only to find that you are left in more pain than before?
If you have answered "Yes" to any of these misconceptions or are finding that you do not move as well as you used to, then mobility and corrective exercises may be missing from your fitness program!
The body can only handle so much and if mobility is not kept up with, then a regular exercise routine may become detrimental to the body. Risking injury is the last problem anybody trying to improve their health and fitness needs to worry about.
Listen to your body. If you are experiencing bad pain or discomfort, not just "feeling the movement" then your body is trying to relay the message that it is not ready for whatever you are throwing at it! Having muscle imbalances, weaknesses, and dysfunctions of movement patterns is very common, especially as we age, but there is hope!
Gray Cook, a well known trainer is one of the collaborators of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). It was originally developed to be used as an analysis of movement patterns and prevent injury. Since it's creation in 1995, it has been improved and used by many trainers and major sports teams to decipher muscle imbalances and compensations. Using corrective and mobility exercises helps to improve and correct movement patterns along with muscle imbalances and weaknesses. The idea of mobility exercises is to help your body work and move more efficiently. The more efficiently your body is moving, the less risk of injury there is, the faster fat comes off the body, the faster muscle is built, and so on.
You cannot stack fitness on top of dysfunction. This is a crucial reason why mobility training is so important. For instance, according to the FMS, if an analysis is showing lack of shoulder mobility, overhead pressing should more than likely be avoided. So what can you do to improve the movement pattern and eventually be cleared to press overhead? Mobility exercises designed specifically for the shoulders! An example of a mobility exercise, a favorite by many, is "Open Book" as pictured.
Performing twice as many reps on the weak side will help match the capabilities of the movement. Give it a try! It helps to improve mobility as well as feels amazing! Inhale at starting and exhale rotating through the movement. Keep the knee on the floor and eyes on the rotating hand, as this helps you feel your range of motion limitation. Do not force a greater range, it will come with time as your mobility improves.
What should you do in response?
Listen to your body
Get your movement patterns assessed for dysfunction
Incorporate mobility and corrective exercises into your daily routine to not only improve your dysfunctional patterns, but to also keep up with your non-dysfunctional patterns (you don't use it, you lose it)
Open Book is a good one to get you started!
Train SMARTER, not HARDER!
M.S., B.S. Exercise Science
NASE Level II Speed & Explosion Specialist