Some answers are complicated, some answers are simple.
For example, say your squat mobility sucks and you want to fix it. Cool. You have a problem and you want to solve it.
Unfortunately it’s here at the beginning that people self-destruct because they start by looking for the most complicated answer. 25 different crazy banded distraction half prone kneeling mobilization must be the Golden Ticket to a land full of grassy butts. Invest a life savings into 30 different mobility tools from Rogue will set my tissues free. Chiropractor, Graston, accupunture, those weird suction cup thingies.
It can be easy to think that because something looks complicated and there is a 14 minute video explaining why this new thing will cure your movement cancer, it is the right answer.
But it’s not, or at least not yet.
First, to clarify things I am NOT saying:
I am not saying that these mobilizations or tools or techniques don’t work. They do. They work. I am not saying that when people strap themselves into an elastic band, or if a coach has someone do some funky looking thing, they are grievous sinners and should be cast into the fire. Mobility tools (well, some of them) work. I love Kelly Starrett from MobilityWOD, the guys at DarkSide, or anybody else that knows a metric shit-ton about the human body and how to get it to work better. They know more about the human body than I do. Coaches leading mobility work is awesome. People doing mobility work is awesome.
The problem here (and I would like to think that they would agree with me) is adherence. What I have found so far in my coaching is that the more complicated the answer is, the less likely people will be to use it.
First is the “do”. If you’re not doing anything, you’re not doing anything. “I’m working on my mobility at home” can’t be a code for “I’m not working on my mobility at home”. Inaction is not a replacement for action and won’t solve your problems, so don’t be frustrated when it doesn’t work.
Now for the simple.
Coaches can talk about all the reasons the gadgets and drills work, and there are a lot of reasons those 25 different crazy banded distraction foam roller lacrosse ball supernova half prone kneeling drills work. But the more complicated answer, the less likely people are to use it.
People need equipment – a monetary investment, and as mobility awareness increases, the amount of products available will only increase and increase in price. Yay, capitalism.
Each drill takes time, and probably will be suggested to take 3 to 5 minutes each, and for each appendage. Assuming you want to become a mobility warrior and do one mobilization for each of the major areas of the body, you’re looking at 104 minutes of mobility work. And assuming your coach told you to do these things every day, you’re looking at over 12 hours of mobility work per week – a part-time job.
This answer just got complicated.
I don’t think the mobility gurus would encourage this approach either, but unfortunately the combination of people looking for help and the sheer amount of gadgets, articles, informations and philosophies available give people the impression the answer needs to be complicated and massive in order to be a solution.
A better way to go about it: Do simple.
Coach A: Your mobility sucks. Squat better in the gym and spend 10 minutes in a squat position at home three times a week. Here’s a bonus mobility drill when you have time.
Coach B: Your mobility sucks. Here are 14 YouTube videos about the hip capsule, seven about the calf and ankle, three about the foot, and five about the t-spine and shoulder. Watch all of them, and do all of them every day at home and come to class 40 minute early to do specific movement mobility before the WOD.
Which is a better plan? It’s not that Coach B’s plan can’t work, I’m saying people won’t actually adhere to this plan – which is the same thing as it not working. There’s too much inside a too complicated a prescription. Yes – eventually a more complicated prescription might be needed, or if a person has some serious issues because of current or prior injury. But the prescription checkdown should always move from simple to more complex to encourage adherence.
Example: Improve Squat mobility
1. Hang out in a squat position, three times a week outside the gym. Improve squat inside the gym.
2. Hang out in a squat position, every day outside the gym. Improve squat inside the gym.
3. Hang out in a squat position every day. Improve squat inside the gym. Perform one additional mobility drill.
4. Hang out in a squat position every day. Improve squat inside the gym. Perform two additional mobility drills.
First foundation: Be in the position you want to improve.
If you want to improve your squat, you need to squat.
Second foundation: Improve your technique.
The position actually has to be a position, and a good one. If you complain about your squat being crappy and how nothing will fix it, but at the gym you or your coach allow your squats to be crappy BECAUSE SPEEDZ GAINZ DEATH AMRAP BRO, this is probably your issue.
Third foundation: Be in the position you want to improve, for more time and more consistently.
You are in a good position. Great.
Now, your body is not dumb and it will adapt to the demands you place on it. If you are in a squat for a total of 5 minutes twice a week, the body will interpret this position as unnecessary and no long-term adaptation will occur.
If you are in a squat every day for 10 to 30 minutes a day – now this is a necessary position and something the body will adapt to. This is where your mobility drills come in because they encourage more time in necessary positions. Resist the urge to do more mobilizations, do less and spend more time each one.
Here’s a super simple “hang out in a position” approach to mobility from man-bunner Ido Portal:
Hang out in a squat and move around – it can’t get much simpler than that. This could be 5 minutes or 30, so it’s flexible enough to fit into people’s changing schedules.
When you approach your mobility issues, think “consistently simple”.People will do simple and to fix your issues they need to be consistent.
Simple answers are the best answers. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be consistent. Grow a man-bun.