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Episode 98: How to improve flexibility.

Video Highlights

- Brain-Based technique for improving flexibility.
- Why a constant internal focus leads to poor performance.
- The importance of repetition to build flexibility.

Hi everybody, Dr. Cobb back with you.

Today we’re going to talk about using brain science to more quickly improve your mobility and flexibility.

If you’re going to follow along with us, this is Part 1. What I want you to do is write down this phrase as something to remember all week.

“Every movement has a goal.” All right, I’ll say that again, “Every movement has a goal.”

Now, why this is super important is this is what we’re learning about the human brain. You can have 2 ways of moving. All right, If I’m working on my shoulder flexibility … Which is what we’re going to be testing here in just a minute.

Most people, when they’re working on improving their flexibility are thinking about what they feel. They’re thinking about “aah,” that shoulder and the stretch that they feel. That would be called an internal focus.

Now the way that our brain works though, is that if every movement has a goal, really our brain is designed to operate on the external world. Not the internal world. So, what we see is that people that always have, and I’ll say that again, “Always have” an internal focus on their own movement, especially over time, have more problems with mobility/flexibility.

As athletes, they don’t perform as well particularly under stress. “Hmm.” This comes from a lot of motor learning research. What we’re going to do is we’re going to use this little trick of the human brain to quickly improve your range of motion. So I’m going to show you just a quick example … even on myself. Even knowing this, it still works, which is very cool to me.

So what I’m going to do is I’m going to turn sideways and we’re going to work on my left shoulder in this motion. Okay? I’m going to … It’s already warmed up … Because this is the second or third time that I’ve shot this. Because I apparently can’t talk today.

I’m going to just go ahead and start here and take my arm back as far as I can. I’m going to do that 3 or 4 times so that it’s nice and warmed up. I am trying to keep my body here and I’m reaching as far as I can. It feels tight, it feels uncomfortable at that point.

That is my internal focus. What I’m going to do is I’m going to go through that same motion here … Okay, that’s where it feels tight and I’m going to mark that on the board. Okay, and then I’ll retest that … That’s about where my hand goes.

Now, I’m going to do my little brain trick. I’m going to put a dot … Here. I’m going to now, move to an external focus. Because I’m now telling my brain, “Hey, I don’t want you to just stretch the inside, I want you to get to that other point.” I’m going to look back and I’m going see it, bring my arm up, check it again and I’m going to reach for that dot. Oh, that was way better.

Okay. Now, even if I try to not let my body even rotate even further … meaning, I’m actually making this even harder on myself. If I’m reaching for that dot, I’m still much better. Now, this is … I’ve said, something I’ve used for along time with clients; people that have shoulder problems or knee problems or whatever.

Because very often “aah, I can’t bend my knee.” We get internal on the knee, we focus on the knee, we focus on the knee. One of the goals or one of the ideas that you can take away from this blog is set external targets that you need to reach for, anywhere that you lack mobility or flexibility. All right?

If you do this and you find that you respond really well to it … danger of the cap … If you respond really well to it, what I want you to do is plan to do your mobility work using that external focus or external target, 5 times a day, 5 to 10 reps. All right?

This is another thing that we’re learning about flexibility/mobility, not only improvement but maintenance, is that we need a lot of repetition in the beginning. If you can plan on 5 to 10 reps, 5 times a day for 4 weeks, there’s a really good chance you can start to cement that new found range of motion and keep it with just a little bit of maintenance work from time to time.

There’s our very first blog, Part 1 on utilizing an external versus an internal focus to improve your mobility and flexibility. If you have questions about this or need to have any advice on what ever you have going on, please let us know.

Otherwise I would love to get your feedback on how it has worked for you. Thanks.

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