Today we’re going to be talking about one of our favorite tools from our Level Three class, called Position Specific Dynamic Joint Mobility.
If you’re familiar at all with the Z-Health approach to mobility training, you know that we begin with very precise mobility drills through all the joints in the body.
In our Level One program, called R Phase, we start you in this great neutral stance where you’re learning to have good posture as you’re controlling your body. For instance, if I was teaching your R Phase neck drills, we’d be standing in neutral stance, we’d go through rotation, lateral tilting, anterior-posterior glides, lateral glides, turn them in the circles, and then do a few additional ones just to make sure that we’re getting all the joints in motion.
However, this is a principle in the human nervous system, or the human body, called specific adaptation to imposed demand. Basically, what that means is that your nervous system improves at what it practices specifically.
One of the challenges that we see in most mobility training programs is that at some point we need to take this isolated mobility that we have built in a neutral position, and then we need to transition it.
So, in our system, at Level Two we started getting you into lunge stances and other things, adding body rotations to it. Increasing the difficultly and increasing the novelty, because that’s also good for your brain.
Today I want to talk about a tool that we use in our Level Three training, which is our Introduction to Athleticism, and it is called “Position Specific Dynamic Joint Mobility.” Basically, the way that it works is once you have earned the right to control your body in a basic neutral stance, and then in some of the more athletic positions, we want to transition that movement or that mobility works into the specific things that you do or are interested in.
For instance, if I was working with a tennis player, one of the things that we might want to work on is improving thoracic extension going into a forehand. If I’m moving here, if I maintain this kind of hunched position as I go through my movement, it’s going to alter the technique, I’ll lose power, and usually I’ll also wind up adding additional movement at the shoulder, which can lead to injury.
So, if I have a tennis player that’s already gotten good at basic thoracic mobility drills, the basic idea of position specific work would be to say, “Hey, imagine that a balls coming to you, or even hold your racket, move into a forehand hitting position and freeze.” So they’re thinking about, “Where’s my head?”
Now, at this point the idea would be to perform mobility work in this position. It can be the chest, it can be the head and neck, it can be the elbows, it can be the wrist, it can be the knees.
You have to have a basic vocabulary of movement, but once you have that vocabulary, one of the most ideal ways to improve your technique in your sport or your fitness endeavor is to break it down into specific positions and find where your base level mobility is lacking.
The other thing that we say to our athletes and clients in this is, “Do the drill, forget the drill.” Once I have an athlete in this position, I find that they’re a little flexed through the mid-back and we work on some extension here, we then just have them go back to try and hit the forehand, and let their body see what happens. Very often what we see, particularly in technical work, is people are constantly thinking about fixing all of these postural issues that really should be handled reflexly by the brain based off better information coming in.
So, I just wanted to share this with you, it’s a very, very simple idea, position specific dynamic joint mobility, and it can be applied across the board. If you sit all day at work and you find that you’re very stiff after work, and you get up and you go, “Okay, I’m going to do my movement drills.” Well, you might want to try doing your movement drills in your chair. Your thoracic glides, pelvic motions, lumbar work, all that can be performed in a chair. You can even do your feet, and knees, and hips in a chair.
If you have friends or family members that are bedridden, you can actually have them do their shoulder work, their elbows, their hands, their fingers, their neck, laying in a bed. The whole idea here is to begin where you need the most improvement, and start there.
If you wonder about this, if you have any questions, one of the easiest ways to get into this, talk to a Z trainer in your area, they can teach you the entire joint mobility sequence, and then help show you how to apply it within your specific setting.
We also have products that go through all these different movements for you, but the main idea here is eventually, as you regain control of your body, try to maintain and improve your control in the very specific activities that you enjoy.
Like I said, because a lot of people that watch this blog are also involved in fitness, this is something we do very rarely to improve technique and performance in all forms of fitness activity, whether that’s squatting, dead lifting, bench pressing, same idea.
Figure out where you’re stiff, hold the position, and learn to control your body there. It has great carry over to results.
If you have any questions about this, please let us know.
Otherwise, I hope you enjoy it.
Really one of our favorite, favorite tools.