2014 Mobility Holiday Shopping Guide

Here are my no-nonsense mobility gift ideas for the athlete in your life.

I’m a bit of a weirdo when it comes to the field of mobility and rehab. I believe in a basic approach, and for the most part I eschew the use of complicated tools and techniques. Even so, there are some toys and techniques I would love to add to my bag of tricks.

Here are a few gifts I’d love to find under my tree this Christmas.

Nike Romaleos II Powerlifting Shoes

Price: $189.00

Where to Get It: Rogue

Description: One of the primary weaknesses I see in athletes is a deficit in strength and activation of the hip musculature. Learning how to squat and doing it a lot is one of the simplest and most effective ways to combat this problem.

I am a firm believer that we should all have the mobility and strength to perform a bodyweight squat to depth while barefoot. But the strain on your knees during a barefoot squat is quite different from what happens while squatting with two to three times your bodyweight. Lifting shoes will keep you stable and place your knees in a better position. My knees don’t bother me as much after I squat in weightlifting shoes.

I’ve always liked Nike. I bought my first pair of Frees in 2006 and they’re still my go-to sneaker. The Romaleos are widely considered one of the best weightlifting shoes available. Also, they come in neon yellow and I really want neon yellow lifting shoes.

Rehband 7051 Knee Sleeves

Price: $79.95

Where to Get It: Amazon

Description: Following on the heels of the Romaleos, I want a pair of knee sleeves for most of the same reasons. Creaky knees suck. Knee sleeves help keep your knees warm and moving properly. People’s opinions on their efficacy differ, and there’s not a wealth of literature to support their usage, but I don’t care. Plenty of great coaches swear by them, particularly for athletes over the age of thirty.

Do you need them? Probably not. Can they help you stay pain free and moving well into the latter half of your life? Many coaches say yes. They may not be cheap, but they sure beat the hell out of knee surgery and several months of outpatient rehab.

Strength coach, Breaking Muscle editor, and all-around smart dude Chet Morjaria likes the blue Rehband sleeves (7051s). If you know anything about him, you know he’s trustworthy. Therefore, I want some blue Rehband sleeves. Now, please.

Mobility Star

Price: $65.00

Where to Get It: Rogue

Description: Foam rollers are great, but sometimes you need something more aggressive. Enter the Mobility Star.

The Mobility Star is a steel tool used for soft tissue work when your hands just aren’t up to the task. For a fraction of what other companies would charge you, you get this easy-to-carry tool to help you get into those nasty bits of knotted-up tissue. Just try not to overdo it. I’ve seen people give themselves some nasty bruises with these instruments.

Beastie Hook

Price: $24.95

Where to Get It: Rogue

Description: Another cool self-tissue mobilization tool. My upper back is a perpetual knot-minefield. You can get at a lot of this area by laying on top of a lacrosse ball, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Trying to use a lacrosse ball to mobilize your upper traps can also be difficult, due to their location.

This hook lets you attack all of those pieces of tissue without having to get on the ground. You can get some of the same use out of a simple hand cane by pressing on your knots with the handle and then pulling it down, but this tool does it better and isn’t terribly expensive. It also comes with a detachable Beastie Ball you can use for tissue mobilization on other parts of your body.

I don’t know that it conclusively improves your range of motion or athletic ability, but damn if it doesn’t feel great to work on those knots in your upper traps. Well, actually it feels horrible while it’s happening, but when it’s over you feel like a new man (or woman).

Ready to Run by Kelly Starrett


Where to Get It: Amazon

Description: As much as certain pieces of equipment and mobility tools can help you, nothing trumps knowledge. Kelly Starrett has come under fire recently due to his hard-nosed attitude and occasional overstatement of his philosophies, but I still think he is brilliant.

And I’ve never been a runner, but I’m willing to read anything Starett’s written. You’re bound to learn a couple of things, and I imagine this book is no different.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes by Shirley Sahrmann

Price: $90.98

Where to Get It: Amazon

Description: This book changed the way I view the human body and my approach to understanding pain and physical impairments. Cook and Starrett are both incredibly intelligent guys, but this book is what got me hooked on the physical therapy field.

This text is designed for dealing with the general population, rather than athletes in particular. However, the lessons are about maintenance of the human body, so they apply to pretty much anyone. I’ve seen a handful of exercises from this book solve the problems of hundreds of high school and college athletes in a handful of weeks. Simply put, if you’re interested in movement disorders, you need to read this book. Period.

Stay tuned for more 2014 holiday gift guides!

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