I was wondering if Eric Cobb could provide some examples of what he feels is appropriate and effective "mobility training." In his article Dynamic Mobility Training, his definition of mobility was very insightful and "outside the box." I thrive on expanding my functional training knowledge, so I am eager to hear more.
Thank you for the question. In our training system, we begin with very isolated joint mobility drills for individual joint complexes. In our basic program, there are approximately 160 different exercises, but there is nothing magical about the joint mobility drills we use. However, as opposed to what many people consider mobility work, these drills are very precise in design and positioning.
At a basic level, beginning stage mobility drills should be composed of small, controlled joint motions in all planes and various circular patterns for each discrete joint area of the body. In addition to the precision of the drills, also essential is the manner in which the drills are performed. We emphasize what we call the four elements of efficiency in the beginning stages of every drill:
- Perfect Form
- Dynamic Postural Alignment
- Synchronized Respiration
- Balanced Tension and Relaxation
To make this practical, imagine that you want a client to do an ankle mobility drill. To begin, we would choose one of what we call our six position ankle circles. From there, we would instruct the client on the “feel” of the exercise. Most clients, when doing an “ankle” circle, focus on their toes rather than their ankle, thereby neglecting important ranges of motion. We counteract this by having them focus on “making a circle with their heel.” This is the perfect form portion.
From there, we insist that even while doing an isolated mobility drill, clients must maintain an ideal dynamic postural alignment throughout the exercise. It is amazing how quickly posture deteriorates in most people as soon as they begin moving. Next, we ensure their breathing is synchronized with the movement when necessary. Finally, we continue to draw attention to any areas of excess body tension while they are in motion. This allows a focused mobility drill that is concurrently re-training the entire proprioceptive system for ideal performance.
So, in review, good mobility training should begin with isolation training and a focused attention to the elements of motor control and movement patterning that exemplify healthy athleticism. Once the drills are mastered in this way, the increased proprioceptive control that results has a huge range of potential benefits on all areas of human function.