If you have been following along, you will know that mobility is incredibly important for optimal health and performance. However, you will also know that it is poorly understood.
Today I want to talk about why mobility is a function of our daily lives and the activities we do, along with why we must train for it!
You see in it’s simplest form, the mobility, or useable range of motion we have with our joints is a skill. This means that it is highly trainable, being something that is regulated by our brain.
The law of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID Principle) states that our body will adapt to the demands that we impose upon it. What this means is that if we use and challenge our mobility (and hence our brain) through the ranges that we do have, then our body will adapt to this. It will keep the mobility ‘available’ to us and actually cause adaptation at the level of the tissue that is taking the load based on the amount we challenge it.
“We either get better or we get worse”
However, this principle also works in the opposite direction. If we fail to use and challenge the mobility our body currently has, then it will start to de-adapt. The brain will down-regulate its motor innervation to the areas that aren’t being used and send messages to your body to start stripping back these tissues.
You see were are an energy efficient machine. Keeping the tissue alive that allows us to be mobile is metabolically expensive. If your brain feels as though you aren’t going to use those tissues, then it sure as hell isn’t going to waste precious resources keeping them going. This de-adaptation happens through a number of different processes.
But I’ve never felt particularly mobile!
Well, I am here to tell you that we were all born with perfect mobility (some more than others). Whenever you watch a child move, you will see them contort themselves into all sorts of crazy positions with absolute ease. They are able to do this because they haven’t been tainted by a life absent of movement. That is why kids are so restless all the time. It’s because the BODY WANTS TO MOVE.
Mobility is a function of the activities that we do.
This is why gymnasts and dancers must start at such a young age. They must take advantage of the mobility they have been born with and begin challenging their capacities to achieve the extremes of what is possible for human beings. They must do this before they become affected by the immobility curse of modern existence.
However, all is not lost for you!
Remember when I said that mobility is a skill? What this means is that through intelligent training we can begin to reclaim our mobility. We can impart the message from our brain to our tissues to tell them to begin becoming more mobile. We can start to re-innervate the long-dormant motor neurons in the depths of our ranges of motion. We can begin to recondition the tissues that haven’t been used in years. We can begin to finally feel free in our bodies again, as though we were children.
But why would I want to do this?
Have you ever been fearful of someday getting out of the car and ‘twisting your back’? What about bending over to pick something up and having your (INSERT JOINT) go on you?
Well, I am here to tell you that 99% of the time these injuries occur because the person did not have the appropriate mobility (and hence tissue tolerance) to get into the range of motion they were in when their injury happened.
How is it that children are able to do all manner of crazy things with their bodies, tumbling, running, jumping and tackling one another and yet rarely see any serious injuries? Imagine if you got the average 45-year-old to do these things. It would be Snap City waiting to happen.
And so that is the power of training for mobility. It represents our ability to retake control over the body we once had. It provides us with the freedom to move in any way we choose, provided we allow ourselves to adapt. It certainly isn’t always easy and does require some highly specific modern-day magic to trick our body back into function. However, as we all know nothing worthwhile should be easy.
So I implore you, find yourself a mobility coach to help you regain control over your body. The world needs you at your best!
By Ben Killen