What Is Dynamic Mobility?

Posted on 03 Apr 2010 20:33

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I've noticed a lot of folks are searching for the definition of the term "dynamic mobility" and I'm pretty sure they will get fairly confused trying to come up with a definition in these pages so I wanted to clear it up a bit.

Mobility? No problem. Dynamic? Sure. But dynamic mobility? Sounds redundant, right?

Dynamic mobility in itself is not a "thing". The word dynamic simply means in motion. There are different connotations of the word as well such as the suggestion of continuous, ever-changing and forceful motion.

Mobility is simply the ability to move freely or the state of being in motion. You can see that it is quite similar to the word dynamic. For either term there are no concrete definitions. Like most words in the English language they are somewhat plastic.

However, my definition of mobility, as it differs from flexibility considers movement in a dynamic sense rather than just a joint by joint sense. In other words you can look at the ankle and say there is flexibility or mobility and I really don't care which word you use. But how the joints and the rest of the body moves and behaves in a dynamic sense is mobility, not flexibility. Others have different ways of looking at it.

My view would see the term 'dynamic mobility' as quite meaningless. Others who looked at mobility simply as movement about joints regardless of circumstances might find value in using the word dynamic to qualify mobility when specific movement situations are considered.

So as usual it's a mess. But when most people say dynamic mobility they are not talking about a characteristic of movement but the way of obtaining that movement. Dynamic mobility usually refers to the exercises and routines we use to train and maintain mobility. We speak of dynamic mobility exercises, movements and routines. We use the term therefore to differentiate exercises and routines done with more or less continuous movement rather than statically such as with static stretching exercises. So dynamic mobility means we are actively moving into certain ranges of motions to train mobility. There are still some static components but the emphasis is on movement.

It's really only important when communicating with others. You can call your mobility routine a dynamic mobility routine or just a mobility routine and it makes no difference. But since there is still so much confusion and disagreement as to the difference between mobility, flexibility, stretching, etc. we use the word dynamic to differentiate these routines from stretching routines because yes, many do consider their static stretching to be "mobility training".

There are many aspects of movement to consider other than just the ability of the muscles to elongate or the joints to move freely. Realizing this causes many different terms to be used to mean the same things because movement experts are looking for the best ways to describe things.

More and more we find that a muscle's ability to except a stretch has little influence on a joints ability to move in a "dynamic context". Static and passive stretching is nothing more than a muscle and the joint it influences yielding to an outside force. Yet the stretching dogma is still very much alive.

I think there is no better illustration than the tight hamstrings and deep squat connection. Ask most trainees how to get a deep squat and you'll be amazed at how many tell you to stretch your hamstrings. Yet your ability to touch your toes has little bearing on your ability to achieve a deep squat! You can have miles of slack in your hamstrings and fail to squat deep. Or you can never "stretch" your hammies and squat deeper than the most "flexible" stretcher. This is because mobility is SPECIFIC to the context.

Bill Hartman gives an example regarding the overhead squat that is near and dear to my own experience:

You also have to consider how movement at one joint affects another. Fascial relationships tie joints together during movement such that 'slack' can be taken up at one joint resulting in limited movement elsewhere. The overhead squat is an example. An athlete may demonstrate normal hip and shoulder range of motion in isolation, but when an overhead squat is performed hip and shoulder mobility may be limited by connective tissue stiffness.

Consider Mobility and Flexibility by Brian Grasso for further reading. This is a series of interviews in which Brian asks Chris Blake, Bill Hartman and Kwame Brown how they define flexibility and mobility.

Body Position and Flexibility

A crucial factor that affects both mobility and flexibility is body position. For instance, the way our body is positioned when we stretch can unload or load certain muscles as opposed to others. Many trainees perform static stretches with incorrect positions, for instance, thereby causing the target muscle to be unloaded while the "slack" is taken up by another segment of the body.

An easy example is the elevated hamstring stretch. Trainees are frequently leaning over their propped up leg in an effort to stretch their hamstring muscle. But often they fail to maintain a straight lumbar spine and thus allow the relatively mobile lumbar to allow the movement while unload the hamstring to a certain extent.

Just as a muscle must be isolated correctly by body positioning in order to stretch it statically, the position of the various segments of the body affect our mobility. For instance, ones ability to achieve a deep squat position with the arms in front or at the sides is usually markedly different than with the arms overhead in an OH Squat position. So body position changes the way the body is able to move and part of this change is reflective of whether certain muscles are loaded or unloaded.


This page created 03 Apr 2010 20:33
Last updated 22 Oct 2015 18:42

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