If you suffer from DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness), feel stiff after a day of work or on a consistent basis, or feel that your performance at the gym has been decreasing for a while, this read is for you.
I say the word mobility and follow that up with the question, “do you even?” and I always get a shrug. Either “I ain’t got time for that” or “I warm up on the treadmill” is the answer I hear most of the time. Please stop “doing you” because that has not been helping you and if you are not proactive in improving your performance in the gym or on the field, you have wasted your time and energy. Let’s briefly talk about why you probably feel the way you do.
For the majority – you go to a desk job or stand for a majority of the day. If you’re only of the lucky few that spend half of your day with a 50/50 split, then just read along. Imagine being stuck in a static position for the majority of the day – the squat, only your hamstrings are no concentrically accelerating, your pelvic floor is none existent, and your thoracic spine is likely tilting anteriorly. This causes your glutes to be inactive & pectorals and hip flexors being overactive. Then you expect to go to the gym and go ham, perform a new 5RM, or get a solid bro-pump, without fixing any of those imbalances.
Now the other scenario – you take good care of yourself. You sleep, eat, and manage your stress well. However you have been stuck in the same workout routine and notice after the first three months of feeling good that you have developed a bit of shoulder impingement. Repeating the same movements time and time again and going heavier forces your body to go to the easiest movement pattern available. That just means you’re using your synergists or the muscles that aid in the main movement as the prime movers or that they become the first source of energy, not the second. One of the big ways of reversing these scenarios is to mobilize. Some active mobilizations using bands are a bit complicated. Using a foam roller is as easy as one plus one.
If you recognize that a certain muscle is sore, new blood flow can provide a release for the storage of lactic acid when appropriately combined with static stretching (holding a stretch for 30 seconds).
Through scenario deux, you notice that your glutes are not firing off as much as they are during the squat and your knees cave in a bit, it might be time to set up camp on your TFL and your adductors.
Now that the idea of foam rolling is looking a bit more appealing… let’s talk about the type of roller. Yea… there are more options than that measly thing you call a roller in your commercial gym.
We’ve got a whole lineup available. Mobility has been evolving over the past five to six years and there are tons of shapes and tools to use. From a golf ball to an item called the Supernova, the industry has got you covered.
Rule of thumb: the smaller and harder the surface, the more finite and specific the point of pressure will be. The broader and softer the surface, the more generalized point of pressure will be applied.
There are many different tools out there and if you don’t feel like spending an arm and a leg, here are three options I know you’ll love.
- Tennis Ball 2. Lacrosse Ball 3. Golf Ball
Each surface is round but differs in density and size. You can use the tennis or lacrosse ball on any point of your body (lets avoid the genitals, joints, and low back). The golf ball is amazing if you want to roll out the base of your foot if you come back from a long day with your feet sore and tired.
Now that I have both your attention and your interest, let’s top off it off by saying this: you can improve your flexibility if you stay consistent. That means being able to stay upright during a squat, keeping your hips down during the deadlift, keeping your shoulders fresh before pressing movements, and your hips aligned during everything else in between. So begin every night spending 15-30 minutes taking care with rolling and stretching. Prior to your warm-up, think about tackling those key areas for only 5-10 minutes. With consistency, what started out as a nuisance will become an addiction. No need to thank me.