Re-Thinking Mobility Training
Muscles generate tension. That’s what muscles do; They pull.
Muscular tension influences the distance between muscle-attachment points, and therefore, will influence motion at joints that muscle crosses . Muscle tension is a primary factor in the positioning of the body, the active stabilization of joints, and the accurate control of human positioning & motion (as well as the creation of, velocity of, & prevention of motion). Your ability to generate muscular tension influences your interaction with the physical world around you. Muscle tension is useful, valuable, and important.
So if the function of muscle is tension-generation, then why do we keep trying to “loosen” it via stretching and massage etc. in preparation for activity? Would you run with a loose shoelace? No. …Then why would you want to run with a loose hamstring? Are you sure everything needs to be loose? Perhaps we should rethink our go-to approach to exercise preparation.
Mobility, without stability, leads to vulnerability.
Perhaps our widely-accepted exercise and therapy practice of “stretching it out”, is a model we should question from a wider perspective, and perhaps we should observe its effects with greater scrutiny. Perhaps we have been mindlessly participating in mobility practices that are inefficient, deleterious, and possibly even dangerous. Perhaps the excessive tension you feel in one area is a result of poor contractile control/weakness/underuse in another area.
Perhaps we should reduce our practices of passive/static stretching, and increase our efforts to train the skill of contractile control. Begin to shift your efforts towards contraction sensitivity, active range of motion, agonist isometric contractions at end range, and internal performance – and you’ll begin closing some of the gaps between Active ROM and Passive ROM. The results from this new type of practice can be astounding; and its value has been experienced and embraced by many high-level athletes.
Flexibility can be good, but who says stretching is the best way to get there?