Monday Mobility: Hurdle Stretch for Tight Hips


Hi All,

Today’s Monday Mobility is an important stretch for the hip. I was down in Tramore Tactical Fitness over the weekend presenting a workshop and this came up during the day. The guys asked me to do a video, so here it is.

Basically we’ve a thing called the hip capsule. It’s a group of ligaments that hold the leg in the hip socket. When these ligaments tighten for whatever reason, it can lead to whole host of problems, from poor mobility to a decline in posture and potentially arthritis.

So it’s a good idea to keep it loose.

Most stretch their hip with  the pigeon pose or similar. And this if fine, but by taking it standing and being more conscious of the angles, we can pinpoint the stretch. When Andy Watson, our physiotherapist first showed me this he was very specific about the leg being at 90 degrees to the body. A position that, unless you are already very flexible is very hard to get on the floor.

Here’s the video:

We’ll have another instalment for you next week, but if you have any questions on mobility you’d like answered, like the lads in Tramore, feel free to drop me a line.

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

Monday Mobility: Playful Flow


It’s Monday so it’s another instalment of Monday Mobility.

This one though is less of a “How To” and more of a “this is what’s possible”

Mobility is about freedom of motion, the ability to move freely in any number of ways., to move without restriction.
It’s being able to use your strength to move yourself, not just bar or kettlebell, but you.

While many of my posts are addressing specific issues, certain patterns and injury problems. But the ultimate demonstration of mobility is playful movement, exploring your immediate environment with your body much in the way kids do. It’s movement for movements sake, it’s fun, flowing and the anti thesis of the po faced, competitive gym environment.

This video clip shows an American mate of mine, Asylum Fitness owner and fellow My Mad Methods writer Mark Smith showing exactly what I’m talking about:

Now, you may think Mark’s been at this his whole life, but in a recent conversation he told me how he only discovered real movement a few years ago and said that while he had strength, he couldn’t move. So this shows what’s possible with gradual, consistent practice.

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

The Nov 9th Kettlebell & Bodyweight workshop in Tramore is almost sold out. We will be showing some animal and mobility type movements on the day. BOOK HERE

Monday Mobility: Lower Limb Stability


For the last few Mondays you may have noticed a bit of theme….

No?

Ok, let me help out…
We’re talking about mobility. We’ve been looking at increasing, or at least improving the range of motion through various movement patterns.

And before I continue, I have to say a big thanks to all who’ve liked, shared and sent in feedback about this series of posts, I’m delighted that my ramblings

1: make sense, and
2: actually help some of you in your training or with your clients.

But is increasing mobility the be all?
Well no, we know this from this post

But there’s another consideration must take into account, and that is of stability.

Mobility and stability are two sides of the same coin, if you don’t have adequate stability in the right places, you will create it artificially with muscle tension, poor movement patterns and a loss of mobility.

Kinda sucks eh?

In today’s video I show a very simple series of drills that we use with many of my guys to increase the stability of their lower limbs, particularly focusing on the knee.

These drills are best done in the warm up, as active rest between training sets or better yet at intervals through the day away from the gym.
Have a watch here:

Knee function will never be optimised without having full mobility of both the hip and ankle and keeping a good length through the thigh muscles. So if you are having issues with the lower limbs, take all these into account.

Tune in next week for the next instalment of Monday Mobility

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

 

Monday Mobility – From the Hip Down


Welcome to another dose of Monday Mobility.

Today’s post is largely inspired by one of my lads, Sebastian. Seb is a motorcycle enthusiast and bit, shall we say “over-enthusiastic” about life.

About a year ago Seb and his enthusiastic motorcycle riding ended with a abrupt stop. The stop was provided by a lamp post.

Seb tore, ruptured and pretty much mullered everything in his knee. In surgery they had to rebuild his ACL, his PCL and his LCL ligaments. He was told by the Doctors that his BJJ career was over and he’d never regain full range of motion in the knee.

They were wrong.

They were wrong because thay didn’t know Seb and how determined he is. They also seemed unaware of the Alternating Joint Theory put forwards by Grey Cook and his team.

The Alternating Joint Theory is a simply model for looking at the joints and their function. It essentially states that they are laid out as follows:

  • Foot – Stability
  • Ankle – Mobility
  • Knee – Stability
  • Hip – Mobility
  • Lumbar region – Stability
  • Thoracic Region – Mobility
  • Scapular – Stability
  • Shoulder (Gleno-Humeral) – Mobility

Simple, elegant in fact.

It’s not perfect, but it gives a great start point for any coach to asses people with. You know that if a joint isn’t doing what the Theory says it should be, then the joint either above or below (sometimes both) has to take up the slack.

So in Seb’s case we had an extremely unstable knee, which meant were running the risk of losing the mobility of the hip and ankle, which would destabilise the foot and lumbar which would potentially cause gradually more and more problems.
This would be unacceptable.

So the very first thing we did was to ensure we maintained as much mobility as possible within the mobile joints (yes, I know ALL joints are mobile, thats the point of having them, the ones that are immobile tend to be fused, think Skull & Coccyx).
We also promoted stability in the knee joint.

I’ll address stability of the knee in another post dedicated to that, but right now I want to give you the method that I gave Seb to maintain mobility and tissue quality in his leg. This has also been used to great benefit by several more of my crew, all have benefited greatly.

You will need:

  • A small hard ball, such as a Sliothar, Lacross ball or similar.
  • A Foam / Rumble Roller
  • A Stretch Band

We start from the ground up:

  • Roll the sole of your foot with the ball. Concentrate on any sore points you find.
  • Foam Roll the calf, then stretch it. To stretch, simply put the ball of the foot on an elevation and push the heel towards the floor, maybe hook a strap around the ball of the foot while lying down and pull the toes upwards with it. Whatever style you use hold it for around a minute.
  • Roll the Quads, front, inside and outside. Look for sore spots and get right into them, use pressure.
  • Stretch the Quads. Here’s probably the best option available for stretching the quads:

  • Roll the Glutes, then Stretch the Glutes. Noticing a theme here? Roll then stretch, roll then stretch.
    To roll the glutes simply sit on the roller, rock onto one cheek and put that same side foot on top of the opposite knee, so you make a figure 4 shape. It’s the same shape you’ll be stretching in:

  • Activate the Glutes / Inhibit the Hip Flexors
    This is a great drill that I wish I’d invented but I didn’t, I stole it from Tom Furman so I’ll let him explain this one then I’ll give you a tweak for it:http://youtu.be/iFY4Azsg5tA

    This is where you need that stretch band, you want that band wrapped around just below your knees. Now as you bridge up, you also push out against the band. As the glutes are responsible for both the lifting (hip extension) and the pushing out (external rotation) we’re going to skyrocket the amount of tension we get and send far stronger signals to the hip flexors to shut down. You only need to hold the bridge with the band for about 30seconds at a time, but be sure to get at least three sets done of both exercises in an alternating fashion.

Seb has done this nearly every day, this allowed him to maintain the mobility in the hip and ankle while we concentrated on rebuilding the strength in the knee.

End result?

This:

Next weeks “Monday Mobility” I’ll discuss knee stability, as fitting the Alternating Joint theory.

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

Oh, and before we go, the Kettlebell/Bodyweight workshop in Tramore on the 9th November is nearly sold out. If you’re in that area and want to learn how I combine these two powerful training modalities, you better get yourself booked in: https://www.eventbrite.ie/event/8108194829

Monday Mobility – It’s not all about mobility!


Mobility and flexibility are different terms describing similar attributes.

Flexibility – Total range of motion. Most obvious example of flexibility being the splits.

Splits - Van Damme style!

Splits – Van Damme style!

Mobility – Control of the joint as it moves through it’s full range of motion.

Van Damme showing control of his flexibility

Van Damme showing control of his flexibility

Mobility requires flexibility but also needs strength and coordination to back it up.
Instead of the splits, lets take a squat as our example.

Neghar Fonooni shows you how it's done.

Neghar Fonooni shows you how it’s done.

Squatting is a basic human movement pattern. Forget everything your personal trainer told you about squats and instead pay attention to how young children move. Each and every one of us could up until a certain age squat flat footed right down until our hamstrings rested on our calves.

Somewhere along the line most lose this ability. In fact so many have lost the ability, there are endless debates as to whether or not squatting deep is good for us or not. There are debates as to whether the Asian population who seem to have no issue squatting have a different structure than us westerners.

All these arguments seem to forget that:

  1. Every human being under the age of 5 has no issue squatting all the way down. And what happens at the age of 5? Kids get tied to a desk in that institution called school.
  2. Every 4 years the most watched athletic competition in the world occurs and we are treated to a display of movement from the world most elite physical specimens. Every race of human being is represented in a host of sports, not least of which the gymnastics and the Olympic weightlifting. In both of these events we see Caucasians and Asians alike showing deep squats, and in the weight lifting, they do it multiple times their bodyweight held overhead.

    oly-lifter

So the squat argument is rendered void, unless of course there are injury factors involved.

Now that we’ve settled that, why can’t we squat?

It’s clearly a lack of mobility, but will mobility work solve the issue?

Probably, but why not look at flexibility?
Specifically the flexibility of the Quads and Hip flexors.

Why not look at strength?
Many mobility problems are simply down to weakness. You get tight to prevent an action happening that you aren’t strong enough to control. In the case of the squat, the chances are you can;t go deep because the Hammies and the Glutes aren’t strong enough to help out in the bottom end. The quads are all good from around parallel to lockout, but any deeper than they struggle. Best option, never go to the bottom end.

So if I work on ankle mobility to allow good dorsiflexion, hip mobility to allow a good hinge, spinal mobility to allow good extension, all links in the chain to performing a deep squat. What will happen when I try to squat?
You’ll probably still not get all the way down, especially if your loaded.

So strength is a major factor in the development of mobility. Your muscles must be able to adequately stabilise the joint as the joint moves thought it’s full range which is down to sheer contractile strength controlled by an efficient central nervous system.

So if you need to improve mobility for the squat, make sure you are training the squat. Very often as your strength increases, so will your mobility.

This doesn’t mean that mobility work is useless, it just means that we should never take our eye off the bigger picture.

Yes, you still need to work on dorsiflexion of the ankle (which I’ll talk about next Monday), but once you’ve mobilised, be sure to add strength to that movement pattern.

 

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

For details of upcoming Workshopsplease click HERE

Monday Mobility – Indian Clubs for Shoulder Health


Your shoulders are probably fucked.

Whoa Dave!

It’s first thing on a Monday morning and you’re not only making blind accusations, but dropping F-bombs while you’re at it!?!?!?

Well. Tell me I’m wrong.

Tell me that you never have pain when you lift your arm, that your scapular flow across the rib cage unrestricted, that you can raise your arms fully overhead while in a flat footed squat.

Tell me you’re shoulders don’t internally rotate, that your pec minor isn’t as taught as a violin string.

Ok, maybe that’s just me.

But since I discovered the Indian club, my shoulders have never felt better. And it’s not just me. Many of my crew now come in early specifically to get their hands on the clubs before training.
All say their shoulders feel healthier, stronger and more flexible.

So today’s monday mobility is all about swinging the clubs, here’s a video:

 

 

When you buy a club, err on the lighter side. Remember, we are talking about mobility here. Yes, you can get heavy clubs, but they are a very different animal and require specific technical training before you even try swing them.
For mobility, the clubs I use are 2kg, and even these are too heavy for most, don’t be ashamed to drop as low as 2lb per club.
Do enough reps and you’ll feel the benefit, a deep warmth (or burning sensation) through the whole shoulder and forearm, a smoothing out of the shoulder and scapular motion and a feeling of traction as the weight of the club amplified by centrifugal force provides traction along the arm.

Enjoy.

 

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com

 

Monday Mobility – Breathe Your Way to Improved Mobility


Today’s Monday Mobility post is not immediately obvious as a mobility drill.

It looks and feels like a breathing drill.

And it is.

But bear with me.

Here’s the clip:

 

 

This clip shows us how to breathe deep into our belly or diaphragmatic breathing.
What has this got to do with mobility?

Well, I’m glad you asked!

In the majority of cases, lack of mobility is simply down to unnecessary muscle tension. So by simply breathing deeper, we can help ourselves chill out and relax, both mentally and physically. We remove the tension and we immediately regain our mobility.

Magic!

Lets take our attention specifically to our shoulders, Traps and thoracic spine.
These are all ares that many struggle with. Almost everyone I’ve ever worked with has at some point suffered with tightness in the traps, shoulder issues and most have terrible thoracic extension and rotation. A few poor bastards had all or the above at the same time!

All these symptoms are exacerbated by breathing into the chest as opposed to the diaphragm.
Breathing into the chest doesn’t include the diaphragm, or at least minimises its contribution to the inhale. Which means we have to rely on the muscles up around the chest and shoulders. And if these are busy raising and lowering our ribs to breath, that means their not doing their prescribed job of maintaining posture.
So if our scalenes are busy lifting the ribs, their role in supporting the head must be taken up by the upper traps and other muscles around the neck.

scalene

 

So is it any wonder the neck gets tight and tired?
Which often leads to the head being held forwards.
Which leads to the chest sinking.
Which leads to the scapular winging.
Which leads to compromised shoulder function & internal rotation of the arm.
Which leads to …………. which leads to ……….

So my recommendation to you is to fix your breathing pattern. Be conscious of this breathing pattern as you move around and while you exercise. Be conscious of it as you sit at home or in the office.

It may just be the best mobility drill you’ve ever done!

Regards

Dave Hedges
http://www.WG-Fit.com