Thursday, June 29, 2006

Awareness, Alignment & Mobility

My logo contains the “tag” phrase: Awareness, Alignment, Mobility (changed from Movement), Strength. In my mind and experience, these are the building blocks of physical health and performance.

Today I spent about 75 minutes with a client working specifically in lower extremity mobility and teaching him some static postures (stretches) that will help him gain mobility. We began with discussion of some functional anatomy—which muscle are two-joint muscles and why it is important to address each joint when working on the extensibility of a particular muscle/muscle group. We then worked on proper alignment for optimal execution of the posture—foot position, pelvic position, lumbar spine position, etc. This type of detail, along with body awareness to perceive it, is imperative to development of functional mobility.

If you aren’t cognitively aware of what you are trying to accomplish (education) and you cannot self-correct through proprioceptive awareness, then you cannot achieve the proper postural alignment necessary for good mobility. Many “stretching” routines fail to accomplish anything because the foundation awareness and alignment are missing.

Most people are not adequately educated regarding the development of functional mobility. Online and written instructions on “stretching” do not teach and train anyone how to perceive what their body is doing; nor do they usually explain why a particular position is being used. This typically requires some hands-on instruction, something most physical therapists do not have time to do and something most personal trainers/strength coaches don’t know how to do. These positions need to be practiced and occasionally tweaked with manual cues and feedback.

Last, but not least, mobility is best gained by using gravity-based postures that mimic functional movements and/or address negative postures/mobility deficits. For the lower extremities, this means keeping the feet on the ground, keeping the torso upright and monitoring the pelvis/lumbar spine at all times.

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