Photo by Bev Childress
Photo by Bev Childress
Many people focus on static passive stretching as a means to increase mobility. I’m here to tell you that it may accomplish this, it’s true, but there is a better way. In my opinion, passive static stretching in adults does very little. Weighted mobility is the approach I take with my athletes and in my Gymnastic Strength Program.
There are three types of clients I come across most often. Are you one of these?
- Flexible + Weak
- Strong + Tight
- Tight + Weak
Weighted mobility can help in each of these situations.
Flexible + Weak
Flexibility with little strength through an increased range of motion (ROM) does very little for a person and can be a set up for injury. There is little benefit to being able to place your body through a wide ROM if you have no control over it. Take for example forward folding your face and torso to your knees while standing with straight legs compared to hanging and lifting your legs towards your face in a leg raise.
Weighted mobility forces these types of athletes to control and strengthen their already wide ROM. It is a misconception that they need to “tighten up.” They just need to get stronger. Applying resistance is a perfect way to achieve this. Don’t force these athletes to lose their flexibility, teach them to own it.
Strong + Tight
This section is for those who are strong and have large muscles but can barely move. We’ve all seen these individuals. They have plenty of strength but struggle to get down on the ground. They work up more of a sweat during stretching than any other part of their workout and find navigating through a narrow space the biggest obstacle they’ve ever encountered.
These individuals have such bulky muscles and so much tension that they practically get nothing out of just reaching for their toes. They need something pulling them down, fatiguing the muscles slightly so that they can increase their ROM. This application of a resistive force leads to connective tissue adaptation.
Weak + Tight
These folks are our desk workaholics. Years of sitting and not doing any ROM exercises has pulled their shoulders forward. It has shortened their hip flexors and caused their hamstrings to become extremely tight, among other mobility issues. It should be obvious at this point what the solution for these individuals is—weighted active stretching will both strengthen and increase the ROM for your classic “workaholic.”
Weighted Stretching Has Many Benefits
There are many ways to move, increase range of motion, and strengthen muscle. The benefit of weighted stretching is that it covers a lot while doing a little. Any time we can condense our training into movements that give us more bang for the buck, I’m all for it. This helps free up time to train what is more fun or sport-specific. Try it out. See what incorporating weighted mobility into your routine can do for you.