The Fit Life – 2019.11 – What Does Mobility Mean To You?

 “All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”


– Kelly Starrett

Overhead Squat

You are in the gym crushing your squats, feeling good and rocking the workout. You look to your left and you see the person next to you squatting but with the weight overhead… Woah an overhead squat – man that looks nice.

Not to worry you say. I am strong and my back squat is pretty darn good. No problem. I can crush an overhead squat. So you pick up the bar, press it up overhead and start to move downward in your squat. And then all of a sudden, you get stuck… You hips lock up, your back shakes and your arms begin to bend… What the heck you think to yourself. Why can’t I do this? I should be able to do this!

Have you ever wondered why you might be able to do simple movements without much difficulty such as an overhead press or simple squat, but when trying complex movements you find that your range of motion suffers? You can squat and press but to maintain a deeper squat with your arms overhead feels impossible! You are suffering with some mobility issues, even though simple movements don’t appear to be a problem.

Our Team of Therapists at LP would love to help you better understand what Mobility is and how you can take your training to the next level.

We define mobility as being able to move freely through a range of motion. This is slightly different than flexibility in which we take into account the length of the muscles and the ability to move beyond a normal range.

When it comes to fitness – mobility is a component of fitness that is often over looked. We sometimes will focus on strength and endurance but not put too much care into mobility. Here at LP, we are highly concerned with proper mobility in an effort to minimize the potential for injury and to enable everyone to move freely through any movement they would like.

Factors That Affect Mobility

Any one of or combination of these factors can and will inhibit our mobility:

  • Past or present injury to a joint
  • Muscles crossing the joints in question
  • Muscle tone and development: over developed muscles can limit our ability to move through a proper range of motion
  • Even posture can affect mobility: when a joint is malpositioned it affects the muscles ability to perform optimally

How can our Therapy Team help you?

1. Video Assessment

First off we’ll start with an assessment, observing gait, complex movement patterns, simple movement patterns, looking for the subtle differences in mobility.

2. Recommendations and Treatment

Secondly, we’ll make recommendations on different avenues to address where we perceive the problems to be which may include soft tissue work (massage, foam rolling, Physio etc), strength, conditioning and stretching to balance tissue and improve mobility.

Here are the typical issues that we see as therapists and some recommended exercises. Keep in mind that these are not problem areas for everyone. Individual assessments will be required to determine the appropriateness.

  • Poor Shoulder Mobility

Stretching – pectorals, Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), Triceps, and the subscapular muscle

Strengthening – external rotators, lower-traps, mid traps and Rhomboids

  • Poor Hip Mobility

Stretching – Adductors, glutes, hip flexors

Strengthening – Glute Max, Hip abductors (glute med/min) Hamstrings

3. Re-Assessment

Thirdly, after a period of rehabilitation work, we recommend that you reassess to see where your progress has taken you and how you may need to adjust our overall approach.

  • Re-Assessments should occur every 30-60 days to ensure progress
  • Re-Assess all Movements above to track your overall mobility
  • Track Improvements and update focus and plan accordingly

Need a little extra help and guidance?

In addition to the strengthening and stretching aspect of rehabilitation, you will also benefit from REGULAR Massage/Physio where your therapist can assist the muscle and fascial tissue to function more efficiently and enhance the work you are doing.

We treat most of our clients on a monthly basis for maintenance. If they are struggling with a particular area of attention, then we often see them weekly or bi-weekly to speed up muscle and tissue changes and improvements.

If you are struggling with a particular exercise or type of movement and you would like some advice or input, please reach out to your Massage Therapy Team and we will be happy to speak with you. You can also send us a video of the exercise or movement concerns and we can assess where we see the issues and advise based on what we see.

You can find them on Facebook or Instagram, as well via email:

Sean Baker – seanbaker630@rogers.com
Ian McInnis – ianmhod@hotmail.com

Below are two success stories of Clients who have followed the Test, Treat, Re-Test Protocol and have seen significant lifestyle and performance improvements.

I’ll start with talking about an average joe client from my private practice, we’ll just call him Joe(not really his name). Joe is an electrician and he spends his days pulling wire and sometimes in very confined spaces and in awkward positions. Over several years of this type of work, Joe developed limitations in his mobility, so severely in fact that a simple squat to 90 degrees was impossible without feeling intense discomfort through his back and hips. This restriction made his job incredibly difficult to the point he was not wanting to work because of the discomfort he experienced. I had seen Joe for some time and we had treated soft tissue, he followed a regimented home care program and we eventually took him through an intensive structural rehabilitation program manipulating his myofascial system. By the end of the 10 wk program we had improved his mobility substantially. Joe was now able to squat almost fully without discomfort!! He returned to work with a new outlook and continues with his homecare to maintain his new mobility. Now we have to work on his strength and stability because he has gained new movement that his body is not use to.

This next story is about someone who we all know quite well! When I (Sean) first was introduced to LP, I started to work with Coach Adam. One of the issues/concerns that Coach Adam came to see me for was a lack of mobility in his arm. Adam was finding some limitations in his performance when it came to his snatch and overhead squats. To be more specific, he was having difficulty fully extending and locking out his one arm. So, Adam and I developed a plan which included regular massage treatments followed by regular stretching and focused strengthening on his part to correct the dysfunction and lack of mobility. The first assumption was that the connective tissue around the elbow was limiting his mobility, and this was our original thought because when he really concentrated and focused he could complete the movement and that’s where the tension was felt. After a couple treatments we came to realize that the limitation actually stemmed from restrictions in the front of his shoulder coming from the connection between his Pec Major muscle and his deltoid/bicep complex, this was also exacerbated by some weakness in his infraspinatus(external rotator). This was not the obvious limitation because there was no apparent limitation with active movement of the shoulder because of the accessory movements that had developed. Needless to say, as I managed to free the limitation in the front of the shoulder and Adam worked on increasing strength in his external rotation, we were able to gain full elbow extension. Just watch him perform now!!

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