“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. “
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been lucky to be surrounded by a ton of knowledgeable people, and I am learning so fast I struggle to keep up. When I first started narrowing my focus on improving performance and training methods, I was turned on to something called the joint-by-joint approach that was created, as far as I can tell, by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook, two guys I have also mentioned earlier. This idea has made a ton of difference in how I understand training and improved athletic performance. Let me do my best to explain the importance.
Basically, the joint-by-joint approach states that we are a stack of joints one on top of the other. From the floor up, those joints alternate in their primary purpose, either mobility or stability. Check this chart below:
Joint — Primary Need
Knee — Stability
Hip — Mobility
Lumbar Spine — Stability
Thoracic Spine — Mobility
Scapula — Stability
Gleno-humeral — Mobility
As you can see, each joint is either a joint designed for mobility or stability. So, while everyone probably knows someone that complains of low back pain, not many people know the source of the majority of this pain. When we have low back pain, what do we usually all assume is the problem? The low back, right? In about 90% of the cases, we would be wrong. Follow me here. The low back is a stable joint, it’s not supposed to move. The entire lumbar spine has about a 10 degree range of motion. But, if an individual has mobility issues in the joint above or below the lumbar spine (hips or T-spine), then the body will compensate and create movement where no movement is supposed to happen, in this case, the lumbar spine. When things are moving that aren’t supposed to be moving, you have pain. This is also the reason a higher number of basketball players are having knee issues. Want to know why? Subscribe to my blog here and then comment at the bottom and I’ll send you the explanation.
Three ways this information can help you.
1. Before adding strength, fix the dysfunction. As I mentioned in a previous post, It’s critical to get a movement screen done by a qualified professional. The only reason I say this, is because it’s helpful for you to have a baseline and to be able to understand where you have mobility/stability limitations. The movement screen is the quickest, and most effective way to make sure that happens. We don’t want to just add strength on top of dysfunction. If we do that, we are just strengthening the dysfunction. This doesn’t mean you have to stop all strength training. Gray Cook, the FMS creator, even says this. We can still be adding strength, as long as we are working on improving our mobility. We may have to stop certain activities for a few weeks while we correct the dysfunction, but we don’t need to completely stop training. This seems like crazy talk to some diehards, but again if being healthier, and moving more efficiently is your goal, then this is where you have to start.
The Process is Simple
Lose ankle mobility, get knee pain
Lose hip mobility, get low back pain
Lose thoracic mobility, get neck and shoulder pain, or low back pain”
Even if you’re not trying to improve your athleticism, moving better can make huge positive differences in your life. If you move better you can be more active with your kids or grandkids, work more efficiently, make yard work easier (I didn’t say better or more fun, just easier). In a country that doesn’t think about movement quality, we are a bunch of unhealthy, pain-filled, people. So, whether you want to improve your vertical so you can get more rebounds, or you just want to be able to climb on the jungle gym with your kids, improved movement efficiency can help you achieve your goals.