The best mobility exercise you’re not doing

For those of us who engage in exercise, it’s fair to say that we believe we should spend time mobilising in some way shape or form before exercise. I more typically see this represented in a way of either stretching the muscles, using a foam roller or lacrosse ball to break up adhesion’s in the fascia, or performing a dynamic range of motion exercises. But how many people spend time mobilising their joint capsules?

You might think it sounds odd that we’d need to mobilise a joint when we’re looking to get the most from our muscles, so why not get them prepared first? However, it’s the joint capsule because it is the deepest of tissues to experience a change in force (from movement) that receives information first, not muscles. They give us the best picture of where we are (proprioception) and what to do in order to facilitate the movements we’ve just asked the body to do. Think about how the rest of the body might move if a joint is positioned a certain way in order to move. How we position of back or head or knee because of where a corresponding joint is.

Controlled Articular Rotations or CARs for short, are end range rotational movements of a particular joint in the body.  These rotational movements near our end range activate mechanoreceptors in the joints, allowing the body to maintain these ranges as we age. The reason we can lose range of motion throughout our life is not necessarily because they are getting older, but rather because we haven’t used that range for a prolonged period of time. Since the body is very efficient at sustaining itself, it will eliminate whatever it doesn’t “need” to conserve energy. Think about it, if you used to run 10k and you stopped running for a long period of time, starting back is hard! That’s because it requires energy to maintain the tissues (muscles, joints, etc.) that you had previously used to run. Since you stopped running, your body realises it doesn’t “need” them anymore. Those tissues have become redundant, thus they are a drain on the body and are slowly reduced or completely broken down. In short, use it or you lose it.

An example of HIP CAR-s about 40 % through a particular part of the movement

In order to maintain our joints and the benefits that come with them, we need them to experience the movements they’ve been engineered to facilitate. By frequently moving a joint through its active end range of we allow nourishment and lubrication into the joint allowing it to function properly, giving us long-lasting, healthy joints that can better deal with the lifestyle and performance tasks we ask of them through exercise and beyond.

Until next writing,


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