The Vicious Cycle - Tightness and Instability

The current paradigm of “mobility work” has left gym goers, athletes and even therapists chasing their proverbial tail, and in some cases actually, increase the likelihood of injury.
Mobility work increases our freedom to advance into anatomically predetermined end-ranges of motion. End ranges, which are inherently unstable from a structural standpoint. If we can cause a transient override in muscle “tightness” by implementing a stretch, or a band or a lacrosse ball, we can gain access to the unstable joint positions that are body is reflexively protecting us from. If in this position we choose to load with resistance to build strength, we do so at our own peril, as our body was attempting to protect us from getting into positions that lacked the requisite stability for load.

Most people embark on this vicious cycle of stretch-strengthen. Repeat.

They apply a strategy to increase mobility, acquire access to unstable joint positions, then load this unstable positing with weight, from their, the perception of threat to the structure of the joint is high, and the functional cast is reinforced and muscle tightness ensues in order to limit the ability of the joint to reach the dangerous end range again.

In order to break this vicious cycle, we need to find a tributary out of this undercurrent, and that tributary is stability.

It’s a matter of asking the question of “why is this muscle getting tight, to begin with”. Shedding this idea that muscle tightness is a structural shortening of the length of a muscle, but rather, adopting a mindset of a neurological perception being the underpinning cause of muscle tightness. How we frame the mechanism is imperative in understanding how to go about making a lasting change. The words we use as coaches, trainers and clinicians matter, and the sooner we realize this the better.

Stay Strong,

Jordan Shallow

recovery-rehab-3

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