More curls. Every program needs more curls.
Definitely KIDDING. A few weeks ago, I was warming up at the gym. Chilling on the floor getting my roll on (reenacted below for full effect).
***PIC OF FOAM ROLLING
A membership consultant walked by and asked a potential new member, "Do you know what mobility is?" The lady replied, "No". The consultant pointed at me and answered, “It’s foam rolling.” Her intentions were good but her answer was not.
Foam rolling is foam rolling – a form of self-myofascial (muscle + fascia) release.
Mobility is the ability to move freely, easily and without restriction (aka body bliss).
We have drawn thick lines throughout the fitness industry. Exercises, class and programs are deemed “cardio” or “strength-training” or “mind-body” or “mobility”. Truthfully, we are in a state of each all the time just at varying degrees.
Widening the scope for a moment:
The human body is an intricate interworking of tissues – muscle, fascia, bones, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, nerves. The human body is, seriously, one of the most fascinating things in the world to me (in addition to the vast mystery of the ocean. Did you know there are mountains on the ocean floor
that would dwarf the mountains on earth? Some oceanographers claim we know less about the ocean as we do of space. Next time you drive through the mountains, imagine that you are cruising along the ocean floor. HOW NEAT IS THAT?)
The body contains a network of systems in constant communication with each other. Keeping us alive. Keeping us moving. Underlying both of these goals (alive + moving) is an efficiency clause. Our bodies do not waste energy. If we do not use a specific function or our body perceives something as “unnecessary”, it will adjust, adapt or evolve.
If you cut out certain foods for an extended period of time, your body will downregulate (decrease) specific digestive enzymes.
If we use partial ranges of motion through our joints, the fascia, muscles and other connective tissue tighten since it appears we do not need the extended range.
If we place our body under a certain load via strength training, carrying babies or moving furniture, our muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments respond by becoming stronger to accommodate the perceived future workload.
If we decrease our energy intake (calories in), our body will assume this is caused by a situational factor (famine, not a 21-day juice cleanse). To protect us, the total amount of energy required to maintain survival functions is lowered (decreased resting metabolic rate), expendable tissue is metabolized for energy and nutrients (muscle and, to a smaller degree, bone tissue) and energy storage is increased and/or protected (body fat).
Conclusion: The body is smart and efficient.
We should use this to our full advantage, right?
Mobility tools and services like massages and active release are incredible for enhancing mobility. All the tips and tricks will be fruitless, though, if we do not understand this fundamental point:
If we only designate a set amount of time each day to work on improving movement quality, we will find ourselves trying to walk downhill with a double stroller. A struggle. The 10 minutes we routinely dedicate to quality control will not stand a chance against the other 23+ hours of messages we are delivering to those same tissues.
Let’s look at some common attempts to “rewrite” the message:
Indoor cycling class calf muscles work within a limited range for 55 minutes vs stretch calves into full range for 30 seconds
Desk job sit at a desk for 8 hours vs. roll out hip flexors on a foam roller for 3 minutes
This is why foam rolling does not = mobility.