If you’re a powerlifter, can you squat to competition depth and do so with limited short and long term damage to your body? Or as an Olympic lifter, can you reach and maintain the bar directly overhead during the jerk? If you are performing handstands, can you get into the position without excessive compensations in the spine, hips, or arms and shoulders?
Even moving away from sports and physical exercises, If you work outdoors, can you kneel down to the ground and get back up without pain? Or run around and play with your dog or kids without concern or injury?
These are important questions when it comes to deciding why it is that you “train” and the manner in which you do so. If one joint doesn’t have enough mobility for your chosen movement, then you’re still going to perform the movement but unfortunately, with some level of compensation and for many this compensation can be incredibly big and lead to acute or chronic injury and pain. The poorly moving joint and everything attached to it will force undue stress on other healthier joints, tendons, and ligaments. It is a plan for pain and weakness as the components involved will easily become overstressed and your ability to move freely will be compromised. Restore your range of motion to the areas of your body that are limited to feel and move better, become stronger and increase your range of movement to levels that you only dreamed possible and reduce the risk of injury to living a long healthy, and active lifestyle.
Controlling your Range of Motion
Can you control your ankles and knees at the bottom of the squat, or do they cave in suddenly? Can you maintain proper balance throughout all movements? While handstanding, do your elbows stay in alignment, or do they flare and wiggle around during some portion? Are you in control of your body and any external weights or are you at the mercy of gravity and momentum?
There is a great lack of control at the end-range of movements. This is typically where you will feel a big stretch or a lack of ability to demonstrate enough strength to maintain controlled movement. Most of us don’t spend nearly enough time at the end-range of movement and therefore our end range significantly decreases over time. The nervous system has the least amount of experience at this position and also the least ability to control the limbs.
As you workout and move through your day, use a greater range of movement than you typically would for said activity but do so with a high level of focus and intention on your movement and minimizing any compensations. It is incredibly important for developing and maintaining good mobility (Ability to demonstrate strength over the full range of flexibility). A full range of motion will activate more muscle groups and enhance the overall effectiveness of some exercises. I.e. going deeper in a squat or lunge (split leg exercises).
Written by Ian MacLeod
Co-Founder & Head Coach at Nirvana Strength