The human body is an incredible machine. It is the perfect integration of contractile proteins capable of creating high levels of force and solid calcifications that move around joints to create movement. Our fascial system integrates the whole system with incredible precision – our big toe is connected to our opposite hand. Our nerves communicate information, while our heart pumps blood through our veins and that picks up oxygen and deposits carbon dioxide at our lungs to be expelled.
It’s kind of amazing.
But when looking specifically at exercise variables, we always want to consider that some parts of the body are meant to do one thing, while other parts do another – even if they are made up of the same thing.
Joint by Joint
More specifically, when we look at the skeletal structure and the joints that allow for movement, we notice that some joints in the body are designed in a manner that allow for greater mobility while others are meant for stability. We call this the joint-by-joint approach, as coined by Mike Boyle, Lee Burton, and Gray Cook from Functional Movement Screen (FMS).
The following joints are considered mobile: ankle, hip, thoracic spine, and glenohumeral joint
The following joints are considered stable: foot, knee, lumbar spine, scapulothoracic, and cervical spine
If you look at the joints listed above, you’ll notice that we begin on a stable joint (the foot) and immediately have a mobile joint (ankle) that leads to another stable joint (the knee) which connects to another mobile (the hip). This pattern continues all the way up the body.
With that in mind, we must realize that our training programs must honor this foundational concept. We should not be actively seeking mobility in our stable joints and should not be limiting range of motion in our mobile joints.
Why it Matters
As a coach, you’ll need to help clients improve their mobility in the joints that are meant to be mobile. This challenge requires you to understand what an optimal range of motion is, how it should be achieved, and what muscles and bones are involved. You’ll need to acknowledge what your client can and can’t do versus the standards.
You’ll also experience the same thing with stability. Many clients will lack stability of their scapula. They may be incapable of achieving and owning a position in space, such as depression and downward rotation. Your exercises must promote what they need, provide a training stimulus, and honor the segments around the target.
The differences are as follows:
- Stability implies the ability to activate muscles to own (avoid moving out of) specific positions in space. Scapular retraction or hip abduction are examples.
- Mobility implies that a joint should have access to all ranges of motion for which it was designed. Glenohumeral and hip circumduction are examples.
CoreStrength1 and Stability/Mobility
Our video this month shows how we use the CoreStrength1 to improve our client’s mobility and stability on the system. We talk about thoracic extension and rotation, hip external rotation and abduction, and ankle dorsiflexion. We also mention scapular stability, glute activation, and keeping the lumbar spine in a neutral position.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create exercises that train these aspects in a program, then please check out our 4-hour continuing education course here (LINK PLEASE). We’ll give you all the education to succeed with and without the CoreStrength1 unit.
As always, we pair the exercise with the needs, wants, and current fitness level of our clients. All people who work with us experience some level of mobility and stability training, but the amount that finds its way into their programs is dependent upon their needs and fitness capability. Some need a lot and some need very little.
In addition, avoid the temptation to do the same movements with everyone too. Pick the ones that are right for each individual client. They’ll see better results and you’ll have better retention.