How often do you think about proper stabilization and joint mobility during your workouts? Probably not that often. Ok, some of us may still remember about proper stabilization, but mobility is certainly something that everyone forgets about. I’m aware that focusing on these two aspects can make your progress much slower, but believe me – patience really pays off 🙂
Let’s begin with stabilization – as the name suggests, our body needs to be stabilized during training. It seems simple, but is it? You’ve probably heard about keeping your back straight while exercising, but that’s not what stabilization is just about. First and foremost, stabilization is about maintaining a body’s proper posture during any type of exercise, but a more precise definition could be: setting the right starting position, maintaining proper movement throughout and finishing in the correct end position, with an overall focus on proper muscle tension.
Our body has the right posture when the tip of our head is directed at the ceiling, our chin is slightly tucked in, our shoulders are lowered, the shoulder blades are together and our tail bone is tucked in, reducing our pelvic anterior tilt (the front and upper elements of our pelvis should tilt backwards ever so slightly). Proper pelvic position is key – it is the supporting element of our spine and setting it correctly will automatically result in the straightening of our spine (so we do not have to force ourselves additionally) – therefore, we do not feel tired and can avoid backaches. We must also engage our abdominal muscles (including the transverse muscle; engaging it requires a little tension, which we often forget about). The last step of maintaining correct posture is to “open up” our chest and set our feet to the width of our hips.
Why is all of this important? To avoid injuries, muscle tears and sprains, and damage to our spine and joints – as you know, such injuries can be extremely painful.
Maintaining proper movement during exercise is also crucial. It is directly linked with our mobility – the ability to perform joint movements in a complete range of motion without any pain. I can bet that only a few people think about mobility. After all, if we cannot fully extend our shoulder joint, then there’s nothing wrong with that, right? We can just lean or rotate our entire body to compensate. That’s true, but unfortunately the toll of for such compensation could be all too great. During such movements, our body begins to compensate by engaging other muscle groups which aren’t responsible for this kind of movement. This can lead to painful cramps or even the weakening of our muscles. Proper joint mobility reduces the risk of osteoarthritis, which – in worst case scenarios – leads to endoprosthetics, i.e. the need to have surgically implanted prostheses (most commonly in the hip or knee).
So, how can you take this advice and stick to it during your workouts? I would recommend performing a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) test with your trainer (these can be easily found online). FMS evaluates your elementary motor skills, with a focus on your mobility and stabilization. Next, pay attention to any shortcomings that the FMS test may have revealed. Perform your exercises slowly and carefully, focusing on maintaining correct body posture and performing full ranges of motion. Reducing the weight you’re training with can help ensure proper stabilization and mobility. Initially, you may feel as if you’re making a regression with your workouts – and this can be frustrating – but after some time, you’ll begin to notice that increased weights are much easier than they once were. You will stop feeling limited joint motions and painful cramps. Reaching higher, further and deeper will become much easier, and your back will be automatically straightened. And, what’s most important – you will be healthier and you’ll feel more relaxed.