The How To Guide to Mobility Work

January 29th, 2015

A fair deal of the “homework” that I give to my patients is focused on self mobilizations of the areas that we treat in the office.

This work when targeted correctly, and done appropriately, can go a long way towards shortening recovery time. It is also crucial for making sure that joints are operating in full range, which can unlock hidden strength, increase movement efficiency, and decrease your risk for injury.

Which is ultimately WHY I teach you this stuff!

I do get a lot of very similar questions about mobility work, or self myofascial release (SMRT) as we call it in the biz. So now that you know WHY to self mobilize, let’s talk about a couple other things.

When Should I Mobilize What?

Basically, there is no best time of day to do mobility work, other than when you can make time to do it!

On days that you are training though, there certainly is a better approach to take.

Prior to training, I recommend doing a dynamic warm up which includes movements that:

1) Get your heart rate up and your muscles warm

2) Include unloaded / light intensity versions of the movements you are going to be performing during activity.

With consideration to mobility work, if you have areas that are typically stiffer than others, then I would focus on, or just adjacent to the joints in question.

Avoid doing static stretching, or mobility work that focuses on muscle bellies until after your work out. At this point, your muscles will be warm and pliable. Any work that you do should be more effective, and likely less painful.

Static stretching before a workout can cause weakness and delayed response from your muscles. Which is not what you want when you need them the most!

How Long / Often Should I Be Doing This?

The basic rule of thumb is to spend about two minutes or so working on a given area. Good mobility work takes time. Settle in.

As far as how often, I personally do some form of mobility work once a day, which is what I recommend as well.

You should look to spend around 15 minutes a day of targeted, intentional, mobility work. The good thing is that you don’t have to do it all at once!

If you have a couple of minutes to work on one thing, but not another, get to it right then. Come back to any of the other stuff you need to work on later.

On training days, it is advisable to spend an additional 15 minutes doing mobility work for every hour of training.

What Should I Be Doing Afterwards?

I know that this is starting to sound like a lot of work, but you aren’t quite done yet. Don’t worry though, you’re worth it.

After you get done mobilizing an area, you should follow it up with some sort of regional stability exercise. The good part is that it doesn’t matter what it is so long as it:

1) Utilizes the area that you just mobilized.

2) Makes that area shake a little bit.

That shaking sensation that we get with certain movements is an indication that we are accessing the motor control centers in our brain and spinal cord. By activating these areas, you can help ensure that gains you make during a mobility session stick around a little longer.

Then, after you are done with your regional work, its a good idea to do a global core stability exercise. Planks and their variants are often a good choice for this.

Should I Stop If It Hurts?

Mobility work can, and often is uncomfortable. That being said, you certainly can do some damage if you don’t listen to your body.

If the mobility work is causing achy discomfort that improves with repeated passes, then I would just push through. If on the other hand it causes sharp pain, especially recognizable sharp pain, then stop immediately.

If the work starts to become progressively painful, then stop.

Finally, if the work causes lingering pain after you get done. then don’t do it again.

The what and how to mobilize any particularly large topics, so I won’t be covering them here.

However, I often upload mobility videos that you can find on the Facebook page, and am always available to answer any questions you have on this topic.

Happy Mobilizing!