The Three Pillars of Flexibility and Mobility

There’s a very specific type of reader I’m pushing this blog to. So, already I’m guessing you train hard: In the gym, on the mat, in the ring, on the court, in the arena, etc. Ideally, several of the above.

But if there’s one aspect of your health that you overlook, I’m guessing it’s flexibility and mobility. I know because I overlooked it for years, and it came back to haunt me.

I started training hard in high school. By senior year, I was putting up lift totals just north of 600lbs. Nothing earth-shattering, but some pretty serious weights for a kid whose body was still growing. Since then, I’ve been lifting regularly and competing in sports that are not known for their kindness to the human body – football, rugby, hockey, and martial arts.

My body started to fall apart around the age of twenty-five. Suddenly, my knees couldn’t take a 135lb squat to parallel. My posterior chain tightened up and started fucking with my lower back. Regular injuries became a fact of life in every sport I played, even beer league hockey and co-ed ultimate frisbee.

As a young man, it’s far too easy to ignore the long-term damage you’re doing to your body by training hard. And yes, while training is by far a net positive for your body and soul, you are doing damage as well. Fortunately you can mitigate this damage, improve your present performance, and set yourself up for a long and healthy middle age, by following a few simple rules:

1) Stretch

I do two Yoga classes a week. Yoga is not magic. It is stretching. Also, a great opportunity to meet hot, flexible girls. Make a yoga class part of your weekly routine, learn the poses that loosen up your tight areas, and practice them on your own time at home or between sets.

2) Myofascial Release

Myofascial release involves the use of pressure and massage to loosen up pockets of hard, immobile connective tissue. You can get a proper ATP Release massage done if you’ve got the cash, or just pick up a foam roller and bust out a half hour of excruciatingly wonderful pain on your own. I roll out my upper back, IT band, quads, and calves at least twice a week. It’s the best sort of pain, and loosens up my posterior chain (calves to hamstrings to glutes to lumbar to upper back) which has mostly ended the chronic lower back pain I was starting to develop.

3) Eat Your Goddamn Vegetables

This very well may be a placebo, and it could very well be due to other changes I’ve made in my lifestyle and training routine. But, once I started eating a garbage bag full of leafy green vegetables with every meal, many of my old, nagging chronic injuries started to fade away.

  • Rob

    You nailed it. I lift heavy, but barely stretch. A bad combo.

    For mobility and myofascial release, google Kelly Starett. He owns a cross fit, I think in San Fran. Dude is no joke.

    Here’s the link: http://www.mobilitywod.com/

  • Bismarck

    Hey Frost,

    Don’t you mean Active Release Tension treatment, not ATP?

    I’ve had ART before — fucking brutal but necessary.

    Here’s the rub, though: Mobilizing without stabilizing (doing something like a turkish getup to ‘regroove’ a movement pattern) will not last.

    Check out Justin’s blog on this topic — you’ll like it. Superhumanpursuits.com

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