How To Improve Mobility Without Stretching

If you train regularly you probably spend a bit of time mobilising before your workout. Mobility is an important part of training and it’s definitely a good idea to work on your specific areas of weakness.

Do you need to improve your mobility?

Common Methods Of Improving Mobility

The usual approach to working on mobility is a blanket approach of stretching, foam rolling and trigger pointing painful spots with lacrosse balls.

While these techniques might ‘work’ it’s important to know exactly what it is you’re doing.

The problem with most mobility techniques is that although they may offer you an instant gain in ROM they’re not doing any thing to the muscle itself – they are just temporarily changing the sensation of stretch.

This is why you have to perform these kind of techniques every time you train – they work via the CNS, and don’t effect muscle length or structure.

How To Improve Mobility Without Stretching

To gain true range of motion you must repeatedly perform a task, preferably loaded, that requires the range of motion you’re after and let your body adapt over time.

In time your body will learn new positions for joints and how to safely operate in these new positions.

The cool bit is that no foam rolling or ‘stretching’ is necessary – you just need to teach your body new things.

How I Help My Clients Improve Their Mobility Without Stretching

A way I help my clients increase specific ranges in specific joints is to have them perform a movement task, specific to the joint(s) movement they want to improve.

Dynamic left hip mobility with an altered lunge

For example, if a client needed a greater level of left hip abduction I would have them perform a movement that emphasised left hip abduction (see picture opposite) and them have them return to the original squat. Nine times out of ten you’ll find the original squat will have more left hip abduction.

What this really is is skill change – you’ve just taught your body that it’s possible to perform any given task in different way – and its this skill change that will illicit different muscle reactions in your movement.