Chad Benson, MSc, CSCS, PT
There are several video links inside this document but this one is a 20 min comprehensive (more exercises) version of the sequence below.
Some of favorite flexibility drills and is a great adjunct to the exercises below. Next week, I am going to post a 6 min standing mobility sequence everyone should be doing.
Over my years of training, prescribing exercise and studying innovation, I’ve either a) forgotten certain exercises I used to love, b) have developed better ways of doing something a lot people already do, or c) have serendipitously stumbled onto really innovative ways to functionally align & set people up for functional success. Each exercise included below is grounded in 3 dimensional movement science, rehabilitation or myofascial anatomy and has the ability to help people “Prepair” for any upcoming workout or sport. Whether it’s a professional athlete or a 70 year old grandmother, the foundation for movement capacity is movement ability.
The ability to move well is predicated by the ability to mobilize the tissue and stabilize the joint(s) being loaded. Gary Gray refers to this as mobile – stability:
I refer to this as “Prepair2Perform”. Another way to think about this concept is joint stacking. In figure 1, there are two diagrams:
1. Illustrating how the human body stacks its joints and 2. Systematically stacks stability over top of mobility.
There are a few key concepts to consider against when “prepairing2perform”:
1. The picture on the right in fig 1. Illustrates how alignment is associated muscles that are either equally active (balanced and of equal length), overactive (shortened) or underactive (lengthened).
2. When all the contractile & passive fascial element tensions around a joint are properly distributed (or aligned) joints function to perform daily and athletic tasks with efficiency.
3. Balanced joints and their associated muscles are much more resistant to most non-contact injury.
4. Mobility without stability is inefficient way to improve flexibility!!!! Regardless of the specific joint designation, all joints are capable of both mobility and stability.
- Meaning, while the knee generally loses its ability to stabilize, the attached muscles / fascia can also create or restrict mobility leading to increased stress on the stabilizers. If any tissue is loaded too much, too fast or too frequently, acute and chronic problems can develop.
- If a mobility joint loses mobility due to overuse, underuse or injury, a joint above or below is forced to contribute to the lost element. Similarly losing stability can lead to mobility joints attempting to function with stability. For example people who suffer from low back pain often have reduced stability of the local and global stabilizers in that area. Other muscles in the joint below (i.e. the hip) which also attach to the pelvis take over to help stabilize. As a result of robbing Peter to pay Paul the hip flexors & rotators begin to act as stabilizers, and therefore lose range of motion in favor of compensatory lumbo-pelvic (low back) stability. Furthermore, I could stretch those muscles as much as I want but the brain / CNS recognizes instability and quickly sends signals to turn those muscles back on. The nervous system is a highly tuned machine that will not allow long-term instability of the pelvis or spine. The solution won’t be more yoga, more stretching, more machine, more range of motion. A better solution will be incredibly well executed bridging, side planking & bird dogging (i.e. level the pelvis & create mobility over top of stability) therefore the goal of any training program should be stabilize. The exercises I have chosen do a great job of creating mobility over top of stability for each of the joints listed.
- Cervical Mob, Scapular Stab, Thoracic Mob, Lumbo-Pelvic Stab, Hip Mob, Knee Stab, Ankle Mob
- Mobility and stability are the foundations of your fitness house. A stable foundation supports the roof, walls & furniture and can even withstand unexpected challenges from the environment. Both the nashFIT SNFW & NASM OPT models of progression are built upon this very concept. Functional (the ability to move without pain or restriction) movement & stabilization are the foundations of strength & power.
nashFIT Client & Athlete Development Model
NASM OPT Model
Functional & Movement Prep Concepts:
- Functional Truth #1- training to improve an individual’s quality of life or performance must have a positive impact on the capacity of that person to perform in life or sport.
- Functional Truth #2 – slow training, isolated muscle training and heavy loading with pauses may help improve strength & muscle size but they are incurrent with the development of useable real life movement.
- Functional Truth #3 – never perform the same amount of movement for the Right and Left sides when one is clearly tighter / less flexible than the other. While there are other therapeutic methods which work specifically on improving motor control, I recommend the following: Perform asymmetrical Rx as part of a 1. Dynamic range of motion warm-ups, 2. Cooldowns after workouts & 3. Recovery between sets.
- Functional Truth #4- a neutral / non distorted posture is important, but high function requires dynamic postures capable of transitioning into, through and out of neutral.
- Postural habits like sitting for prolonged periods or training some muscles more than others have a large influence on the way we move. For ex. a kyphotic thoracic / upper back posture, can affect the ability to rotate when golfing or recruiting back muscles when performing lat pulldowns. Our bodies are myofascially linked into a kinetic chain where one joint impacts the joints above and below the point of pain or immobility.
Functional Truth #5 – level the pelvis. Every client should be instructed to and achieve 3D – triplanar neutral alignment.
This video highlights some of my favorite exercises I prescribe to achieve 3D alignment from the core out. This recent Prepair2Perform Blog post http://prepairtoperform.blogspot.ca/2015/09/maximize-your- flexibilty-stretching.htmlexplains this concept and the required core components further. Another simple method for leveling the pelvis is to ensure every client can perform the following with neutral lumbopelvic & spinal posture:
o 2ft Bridge (+ 1 ft variant), Plank (+ 1ft variant), Right & Left Side Plank
- Muscles do not end up tight or weak without cause. Muscles become tight or weak due to daily habits, previous injury or activities. Tightness results from use through a shortened ROM via overused and active muscle. Weakness results from non-usage, altered usage, or tightness in the muscle opposing the movement / antagonist muscle. For example the biceps oppose the triceps. If the biceps are worked too often, the triceps become weakened and the joint unstable during functional activities like push-ups and getting up from the floor.
- While others exist, due to life and fitness dominances North Americans tend to have 3 different postural distortion patterns 1. Upper Cross 2. Lower Cross 3. Postural Distortion Syndrome. All of which are outlined by Vladamir Janda http://www.jandaapproach.com/the- janda-approach/jandas-syndromes/and in the NASM CPT course and often lead to the following outcomes:
o Weak Cervial neck flexors, upper back, low abs / core stabilizers, Glutes / GM, Rectus femoris, VMO, Tibalis Anterior
o Tight neck extensors, low back, quads, medial hamstrings, adductor magnus, calves. Functional movement & strength training should always begin with a P2P assessment plus
corrective exercise. The early phases of training should integrate / level the core & create segmental stability. Once segmental control is exhibited, customers are progressed to kinetic chain, and loaded movements.
- Train pain free, not fatigue free at all times. Remove tissue restrictions, avoid painful ranges of motion. Always refer to a specialist if pain persist or worsens during a workout.
- Introduce specific self-myofascial release (SMR) exercises and isolated P2P movements for the mobility stability spectrum shown below. Our preferred myofascial release tools are the TP Massage Ball, the TP Grid & the STK (this is my personal favorite travel & SMR tool). This site is full of useful information using these tools.
Lumbar Fixed Prisoner Rotation w Arm Wall Clock (Watch here)
Joint & Plane: Transverse Thoracic & Scapular mobility
Details: Kneel inches away fr a wall. Palm faces body and then towards wall as it moves towards the
head. Hold the shoulder in a depressed (don’t allow shoulders to shrug until the arm is approx..vertical)
Step1. Achieve a neutral upper back posture before adding arm & prisoner movements. Step 2. Perform prisoner w outside Step 3. Add high tension shoulder circles w wall side arm Step 3. Perform 3 without rotation (keep both shoulders facing the floor)
Repeat 3-4x / side or 30sec / side (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Functional Progression: Halo & Overhead Push & Pull
Side Lying Reach & Rotate (Watch here)
Joints & Plane: Transverse Scapular, Spinal, Hip & Knee mobility, bottom Scapular Stability
Details: same arm action as shoulder rotation. The hip must be fully extended w/o arching the back. The back foot should be placed as closed to the glutes as possible w toes pointed
Repeat 4-6x / side or 30sec / si (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Functional Progression: Chop. Lift, Suples Spin
Straight Leg Lifts
Joints & Plane: Sagittal Hip mobility, LPHC & Thoracic stability, bracing Spinal stability
Details: sit w & hold a neutral spine (tall torso). Prior to lift, pull toes towards shins, keep leg perfectly straight, tighten the core muscles. Avoid upper back rounding as the leg lifts. Feel muscle in front of leg vs a “pinch” in front of the high hip. If there is a pinch foam roll the TFL / area of the pinch.
Repeat 4-6x / side or 30sec / si (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Progression: Pistol Squats, L sits
Jane Fonda / Straight Leg Adduction
Joints & Plane: Frontal LPHC & Spinal mobility, scapular & Thoracic stability, bracing Spinal stability Details: push bottom arm into ground (shoulder abduction) & keep ribs away from floor (i.e. do not allow torso to side bend towards floor). If performed properly this will be felt in the bottom inner thigh & top side obliques. Repeat 4-6x / side or 30sec / si (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Functional Progression: Sandbell adduction pull & Lateral Bound
Fwd Bwd Hip Shifts w Internal Hip Rotation
Joints & Plane: Sagittal & Frontal LPHC Knee Ankle mobility & Transverse Hip mobility
Details: keep a long leg straight & short leg foot pointed. Shift fwd bwd 2-3x, then turn foot outwards, side bend & reach towards the straight leg ft. Attempt to but don’t expect to reach the opposite ft (careful). Repeat 3-4x / side or 30sec / si (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Progression: Lateral & Cossack Squat
Down Dog w Ankle Walk + Fwd Step & Fwd Leg Lift-off
Joints & Plane: LPHC Transverse mobility, Shoulder stability & mobility, bracing Spinal stability
Details: For both movements attempt straighten the back, arms & legs. The farther the ft are away from
hands the easier it is to straighten the leg & back, the harder it is to keep the ft flat on the floor.
Step 1. calf stretch (bend 1 leg)
Step 2. Step ft fwd to same hand. Attempt to place ft directly adjacent hand. Do not attempt 3 unless you have successfully performed steps 1 & 2.
Step 3. Tighten abs (brace), lift ft straight up & off floor as high as possible (good luck ).
Repeat 3-4x / side or 30sec / si (hold each finish position for 3-5sec)
Functional Progression: Stiff Legged Deadlift, KB Swing