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Instant Flexibility: External Target vs. Internal Focus Part 2 – Episode 287

Video Highlights

- Every movement has a goal.
- Basic concept you can apply body wide.
- Practical application ideas.

Hi. Z Community, Doc back with you.

We are going to look at External versus Internal Focus for Mobility and Flexibility, Part 2.

In our previous blog I talked about this idea that the human brain is designed for every movement to have a goal. All right? Again, that’s what I had you write down, every movement has a goal.

The idea here is that if we’ve trying to quickly improve mobility or flexibility, if we spend a lot of time thinking about what’s happening and what we feel inside our body, that is often less effective than focusing on something external. In the prior video I had talked about using dots as guides or targets to help you identify something to move toward.

Now, what we’re going to do next is actually show you a little partner drill that if you have someone that you train with or you can use your kids or your spouse at home or whatever to help you with this. This is another fantastic way to quickly regain range of motion that you’ve lost or to improve your flexibility by shifting the point of focus, by shifting how your brain’s functioning. All right?

Woman bending down grab bar to deadlift

Shannon’s going to help me out with this one. This is very simple. What we’re going to do is we’re going to look at his shoulder flexibility so let’s have you face that way.

We’re going to do the same thing with him that I did in the previous video.

We’re going to have him start with his arm out and he’s just going to simply open out really wide, like he’s been at the office all day. His chest and shoulders are feeling tight.

I’m going to have him do maybe 5 or 6 reps so that he actually starts to get to a relatively warmed up range of motion. All right? Now, as he is doing this, like most of us, he’s in an internal focus moment. He’s feeling stuff in here, correct?

Shannon: Um-hmm.

Dr. Cobb: Usually what’ll happen when we stretch this is we’ll feel a stretch here and also the back of the shoulder will start to get tired. Yes?

Shannon: Yeah.

Dr. Cobb: Okay. All right. Let’s do that one more time and what I want you guys to do is notice how far behind him his arm is. Awesome.

Go to the store, buy a $3 rubber ball. It’s worth the investment. All right? This is what we’re going to do now. The external focus idea here is that rather than getting him to go, “Ahh, how is that stretching,” I’m going to put him in the exact same position to start and I’m going to put the ball on his arm. This is just in contact with his wrist and his job now is not to think about his shoulder but to think about the ball. This is the external focus part.

Now I just want you to move the ball. Move it back as far as you can. Just keep pushing it, push it, push it, push it, push it, push it. Keep pushing it. Push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push, push and relax. Okay.

There was a little change there. Now he had a little bit of rotation in his rib cage and that’s the kind of stuff that you will see but overall, that was a big difference. Go ahead and try it on your own now without the ball. Voilà

All right? So, feel better?

Shannon: Yeah, yeah, feels a lot easier. If I picture the ball it’s even easier.

Dr. Cobb: He just said something super important. He said, “If I picture the ball, it works even better.” This is a great thing, a great simple tool and idea and a lot of people … Thank you sir…

Shannon: Okay.

Dr. Cobb: … would call it more of a brain hack. I don’t particularly like that term but that’s what it is. In essence it is identifying the brain loves goals. It loves targets that are outside you rather than inside you and uses some incredibly simple to help guide your movement.

Let’s say you’re a golfer and you’ve been working on improving your back swing. You feel tight through your hips or your back and you can’t rotate. Great tool.

Let’s say you’ve been through a shoulder surgery because you took a fall and now you’re in the middle of rehab and you’re constantly fighting with that internal feeling of tension. A great tool.

Let’s say you’re an athlete. You’re just trying to work on your hamstring flexibility. You can put the ball somewhere on your chest as you go forward. The whole idea here is move away from feeling the inside to focusing on something on the outside and most of you are going to have a significantly noticeable improvement very quickly.

If you have questions about how this works, let us know. Most important, if you have feedback, I would love to hear it.

Thanks guys. Have a fantastic week.

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