There’s been a lot of interest shown in these new mobility techniques that we’ve been bringing to the warm-ups. I actually started my quest to better at mobility maybe a year or just under a year ago when I sprained the crap out of my ankle for the 7 millionth time playing soccer. This wasn’t just a regular ankle sprain. I had what is called a high ankle eversion sprain which is a sprain of the medial ligament. I had sprained my ankle 6, 999, 999 times before this one in the Army, playing sports etc etc but, this one was definitely the worst. The pain at the time was incredible 10 out of 10 on the happy face/sad face pain chart.
Anyway, a few weeks later I could finally move the thing and start walking again which meant, for me, I could start rehabbing it. What my rehab consisted of was stretching and moving it to get some blood flow in there. I would sit around and move it with and without the external influence of my hands until it became too painful and then I would lay off. I would do this over and over again daily and I did make some progress until I stepped in a hole in my backyard and turned it again. Progress ended and I had to start over again. This time though, I was fed up. The previous soccer sprain had moved it’s way from my ankle to may calves to my hips all the way up my body creating so many problems that I had to compensate for without knowing it. I stated to favor my right hip, my lower back became super tight, my feet hurt, I slept like crap and my workouts and life took a downward spiral. Enough is enough.
Enter Functional Range Conditioning (FRC). I had spent a lot of time on my ankle with no real evidence of actually strengthening it and gaining real, usable range of motion (ROM) again. So, I opened my paradigm up to something new, something I hadn’t done before which is strengthening ANNND creating new range of motion. What this is essentially is a neurological retraining of your body’s muscular system. See, we have this muscle and it has what are called insertions and origins. Basically, the two ends of the muscle that attach itself at each end to either a bone or a tendon. So, everyone is super strong when they make a muscle (lets use the bicep as an example). That big bicep you created by flexing your arm is super strong at this point but what about at other angles and ranges?? Simple questions would arise like ; What about straight arm or leg strength? Are you able to pick your leg up using the correct muscles and not compensate with others? Can I keep my torso upright in the squat because I know I have the hip and ankle mobility to do so? Is it my low back or my dorsi/plantar flexion that is lacking or both?
I started to apply some of the principles of FRC to my daily warm-up. Doing some of the squat work you may have done with me in class during a warm-up. Also, some of the controlled articulating rotations(CARs) as well. What started to happen was that the actual muscle tissue I was manipulating started to get stronger through all the isometric contraction, cramping, discomfort and training I had been doing. GREAT! I’m getting stronger! Not, what I was after actually. The strength is great but what was even better was the mobility I was gaining through this training. I was creating NEW ranges of motion for myself as we as being capable of controlling those ranges. I was able to do this through the FRC principles of contract and relax at every angle possible. I found that I was literally re-programming my brain to TELL my body what to do. It’s doable. With this, I started over. I committed to retraining as much as I could.
I am now strengthening the aforementioned “end ranges” of my muscles. I started with the squat therapy you may remember doing in class warm-ups with me. Contracting EVERYTHING that will create power and/or force and relaxing those areas that will contribute to more range of motion Simultaneously!!! Not letting anything go passive, retraining the correct muscles to fire and work a the time I need them to throughout the ENTIRE movement.
This is weird stuff. It’s new. It’s not the norm. You may not get it get. This is all just fine but, I challenge you to try it in a warm-up. Focus on what you are trying to get to work and find out how to do it. The body is an amazing thing and your brain is in charge of it. You can fix it. You can make it stronger. You CAN move better. Ask me how, I’m absolutely obsessed with this stuff.