Why Does Controlled Mobility Matter?

 

Controlled mobility means that you’re not just flexible, but you can actively control & move your joints with the muscles that cross that joint. The next level would be to take that basic control and coordinate it with other moving joints to perform basic movement patterns like push, pull, reach, lunge, taking a step and so on.

The body is consistently looking for a competitive advantage. From a mechanical point of view, tightness & stiffness puts the body at a disadvantage because this puts joints into inappropriate & inefficient positions to produce force, absorb loads, and create optimal leverage.
 

Now lets discuss this from a "motor control" point of view, in other words, how the brain organizes and controls our movements. When our joints aren’t exposed to proper mobility, or are stiff, they can’t activate certain nerve sensors in our joints & muscles.

These nerve sensors are predominately stimulated by movement and they are responsible for telling the brain about the body's current position in space. For the brain to process and plan our next movement effectively & efficiently, it has to have accurate information about our joint's current position in space.

So without proper mobility the brain can't get accurate information from these nerve senors which ultimately distorts proprioception, body awareness, and fundamental movement processing by the brain. This is the concise answer to the common question: “Why does our body tighten up?”,

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Many think that the brain just sends signals to the muscles and we move.

The reality is that muscles and joints send just as many signals to the brain to tell the brain what position they’re in, which is essential for automatic movement planning & execution.

Automatic means its a reflex and it happens at a subconscious level, at speeds that are way too fast for the neural circuits of the conscious brain to handle (aka the "thinky" part of our brains). It's just impossible for us to think that fast.

That's really the beautiful thing about motor control, it’s all playing automatically in the background for us as we focus on the current task like reaching for a jar or getting around a defender. Old and new brilliant movement systems have adopted the fact that communication between the mind and body is essential for coordinated, smooth, agile, and graceful movement.

The best way to keep this 2-way communication between the mind & body alive is to ensure that you have a basic level of controlled mobility within your joints. This is why our Movement Wellness service screens and assesses your joint mobility to establish and maintain a basic standard.

Controlled mobility allows us to age gracefully with the ability to move freely, allowing us to enjoy an active & pain free lifestyle.

thoracic mobility demonstration

In video part 1 below I am demoing how I like to coach a thoracic (upper back) self mobilization. I call this the "gapping & hinging" technique which is one of my favorite self-care techniques that I frequently educate and coach my clients through. In the video I am demoing on a mobilization wedge but the same principles can be applied to a foam roller. 

The upper back is one of the most important areas of our bodies to keep mobile and moving well. I like to call this area one of the "holy grails" for movement wellness. The upper back is a key element for optimal function of the neck, shoulder, lower back, and our breath. 

The part 2 video below I am demoing our intent with the gapping & hinging technique using a spine model. This is how I help my clients use mental imagery as they focus on technique while executing this very powerful self-care mobilization.

 

After we create some controlled mobility through the upper back we want to teach you how to integrate that new mobility into core and postural function using variations of what we call static motor control (learning how to prevent movement) and dynamic motor control training. This last video demonstrates some examples of a static motor control exercise called the "Anti-Lift" in both supine (on your back) and tall kneeling. Progressing to a dynamic motor control drill called "The Chop" pattern. 

 
Ramez Antoun