Mobility – Onwards & Upwards

Mobility is the ability to move between different social and societal settings. Or is it the ability of the body to move freely and easily? Today we are talking about the latter.  Not to be confused with flexibility, which is the ability to change, bend and compromise.  I am sure we all know a few people who may have mobility but no flexibility, but I digress.

We are after what specifically is mobility in an anatomical sense. Mobility within a joint is the degree to which the area where two bones articulate, allowing the joint to move before being restricted by the surrounding tissue such as tendons, muscle, and ligaments. Think of mobility as the range of uninhibited motion around the joint. Though ideally your body should move synergistically (say that 4 times quickly!).

Synergetics is the system of holistic thinking which R. Buckminster Fuller introduced as Synergy. That is, an interaction or cooperation giving rise to a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts. The term synergy comes from the Greek word “συνεργία synergia from synergos, meaning “working together”.  A simple example of this is the first thing in the morning, we are all a bit stiff – no way you could touch your toes, but after a hot shower and a cup of coffee, your body starts to move a bit better and a bit more, the systems are waking up.

A specific example for me is the loaded back squat, which has been a bane for me for a few years now.  When squatting down to 90 degrees, I would feel pain in my right knee and lower back. A physical therapist could, and have measured, all my specific flexibility in each muscle and mobility in each joint (under passive unloaded movements). But why do I have pain in the right knee and right lower back when I do a loaded back squat?  My body is not in synergy.  Long story short and jumping forward many months, I have a lack of mobility in my upper thoracic (upper ribs, back) which under load will not allow my pelvis to move and in turn places a greater load on my knees, which stops stability muscles from working or completely turning off (sensory motor amnesia).

Gray Cook, creator of FMS Functional movement screening system, (who we use at ALTA) created the joint-by-joint basis to create the best movement patterns Viewing Cook’s approach from the bottom up we can see how joints can stack on top of each other, alternating from stability to mobility.  Feet are stable, ankles have mobility. Knees have stability, hips have mobility. Core is stable, thoracic has mobility, neck is stable.  And when we sit for long periods of time or have an injury this paradigm becomes flipped.  In my case, thoracic became stable instead of mobile.

Where to from here? To ensure you have proper mobility in your joints there is no one cure all exercises, the body is Synergetic”. It is a combination of exercises from massage, yoga, pilates. Specific mobility exercise for each joint, specific flexibility exercise for each muscle group as well as activation exercises (turning on sleepy muscles, the opposite of sensory motor amnesia).

So, you see mobility has many aspects. If you would like to learn more about mobility and how we integrate the synergetic’s of mobility in to the ALTA system, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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