Mobility: When is Enough Enough?

Mobility: When is Enough Enough?

Mobility is a big trend right now in fitness, and for good reason. If you can’t move, you can’t train very well, either. You could spend the rest of your life reading all the books and articles and watching all the videos online about mobility. But when is enough really enough? Is the guy in the “Enter the Pain Cave” t-shirt who spends 45 minutes before and after every workout screaming as he tortures himself with his foam roller doing it right? Is that what you should be doing, too? Let’s try to demystify some of this stuff! To quote Alex Steffen, “More is not better. Better is better,” and that is particularly true of mobility work. It’s unlikely that foam rolling and other types of compression mobility really deform tissue much. Even though we use terms like “releasing tissue,” it’s more of a metaphor than what is really happening. Likewise, when we “stretch out,” there is probably very little real stretching actually happening. One study showed that it takes over 9000 Newtons of force (about 2040 pounds!) to deform our pal, the iliotibial band, by one percent. 1%! It takes about half as much force to change the plantar fascia on the bottom of your foot by the same amount, too. (1) That’s a crazy amount of force and there’s no way that’s happening with mobility techniques. Instead, what’s probably happening is that when you mobilize, you help these tissues slide and glide over one another. There’s also definitely a neurological effect. Mobilizing, rolling and applying pressure to the body with other implements will activate certain types of...

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