Within the Onnit Academy curriculum, we use the term “durability” to describe the ability to withstand wear and tear or damage while sustaining work over a long period of time. One of the attributes that is really integral to durability is mobility.
If you ask anyone, “Where are you experiencing common aches and pains that are preventing you from participating in activities and/or having a greater quality of life?”
The inevitable answer to this question includes some or all of the following: neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
Defining each of these areas by the fact that they are joint complexes leads us to understand that the likely cause of a lack of durability is due to trauma or stress on the joints. These areas have the potential to take high amounts of concentrated stress during physical activity as a result of the tissues in these areas not being directly supported by bony structures. Instead of the demand to deal with the loads being placed on bone, they are placed on soft tissue and on the joint capsule itself.
Durability is dictated by the body’s ability to distribute the stress of activity across the structure of the whole body effectively, without causing undue stress on these potential weak links.
Conditioning the connective tissues to be resistant to failure, and especially to do so over the course of a lifetime (what we call longevity), requires a comprehensive game plan that addresses both flexibility and mobility. Flexibility is the absolute range of motion achievable in a joint or series of joints. This is usually measured in a static position, though it does not necessarily have to be. Mobility is different than flexibility, it refers to your ability to control your body position through a range of motion in either open space or while engaged with an external object. While flexibility certainly contributes to the ability to be mobile, the latter requires not only the potential to move through a greater range of motion, but also the proper stability in various joints to allow for the intended body parts to be moved with control through the movement.
We designed a series of mobility tools that can help you in your pursuit of durability. In this case, we are going to talk about our Mobility Bands and Mobility Balls. The Mobility Bands are great tools that help you to get into deeper ranges of motion and release tension in the body in a variety of different positions.
The mobility bands are light resistance bands that you can utilize for a variety of different purposes, most commonly to help you get into deeper ranges of motion in your open chain mobility. They are also great for using light resistance at the very end of the most extreme range of motion that you are able to get into.
For example, you can apply directional pressure if you have an overhead position; just imagine the resistance band pulling your arm forward and you resisting back. What this does is enables the nervous system to fire in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.
Here are a few examples of beneficial mobility exercises using the mobility bands:
- 1-Hand External Rotation
- 1-Hand Internal Rotation
- Underhand Pull Aparts
- Lateral Raise
- Lying External Rotation
- Terminal Knee Extension
- Stork Stance TKE
- Lying Knee Extension
- Lying Hip Extension
- Lying Glute Extension
The mobility balls are great for applying pressure gently into various tissues, helping you become more aware of the tension you are carrying inappropriately. In this case you’re using them as an exploratory tool to help assess where you might be tight.
Now that mobility training has become a regular occurrence in many training facilities, one of the tools that is commonly used is a lacrosse ball. In our case we have our Onnit Mobility Ball, which has a similar diameter to a lacrosse ball. This is going to be a really great tool to get deep into various soft tissues and apply pressure to trigger points or myofascial lines that become rigid or tight. Here is a list of benefits to practicing myofascial release:
- Aids in preventing injuries
- Gets rid of knots and tightness in your muscles
- Physically de-stresses your body so it can work more efficiently
- Increases flexibility
- Increases blood flow, which aids in faster recovery from workouts
- Reduces soreness from workouts
When applying pressure your goal is not necessarily to break up scar tissue or break up tension, but basically to give you the insight to connect mind to body and consciously release tension through breath work. By taking this approach you’ll be able to take tension away gradually, slowly and avoid any repercussions from trying to change the conditions of tissue to fast or to harshly.