Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums General HELP!!! Lifting Weights with Poor Mobility?

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    • #71824
      AvatarCatie Bertges


      I’ve been struggling with mobility issues in key locations (thoracic spine, hips, and ankles) for quite some time. Both and big and small muscles are “tight”. Due to my mobility restrictions, I’m unable to get into “proper” position for many key lifts (overhead, deadlifts, squats, etc.). I’ve stopped lifting weights a few years ago as a result.

      Recently, I started a mobility routine of upper body in the mornings, lower body in the afternoons, with light cardio on an elliptical machine afterwards. I’ve started from the thoracic spine and am working outward for my upper body routine. Lower body routine started with the glutes and I’m working my way outwards. It will take time, but it’s driving me crazy only doing mobility and cardio!

      Does it make sense to continue my “mobility/cardio-only” routine until my mobility is better, and gradually re-introduce weightlifting? If so, how? If not, how can I re-introduce weightlifting now as I improve my mobility?


    • #77033
      AvatarPatrick Thomas

      Are you seeing improvements in mobility with the work you are doing?
      Are you addressing movement patterns with your mobility work?
      You want to get to the root of cause of your mobility restrictions.
      Yes, start with the spine first.
      If something isn’t right here the primary engines of the hip and shoulder will not move correctly.
      Once restrictions/limitations with the spine are resolved move to the primary engines of the hip and shoulder.

      Continue training. Smart training will help get things turned around.
      Remain within pain free ranges of motion you can control without losing positioning.
      Squat as deep as you can while maintaining control & maintaining an arch.
      Start with the box squat.

      During warm up incorporate the ranges you’ll be working within that day Get those positions warmed up and ready.  It is important to work in all planes of movement. Before and after training keep working within multiple ranges of motion. It may take time to get to where you want to be, however, keep chipping at it.

      Initially removing speed and weight may be necessary to develop proper movement patterns for the skills you are working with. In the beginning, drill and skill work may be your workout. This will help build a solid foundation with your movement patterns,Just where things are at.
      There are many aspects you can include to get a solid workout in while reinforcing correct mechanics and technique with skills.

      As your mobility improves and you are able to maintain position/technique start working in the the other aspects.
      Have you done the 14 day challenge 7 green lights?
      This is a solid series to identify where work is needed.


    • #77036
      AvatarCatie Bertges

      Hello Kaitlin-

      Thanks for the thorough and prompt response!

      I’m seeing improvement in my mobility but it’s all very incremental. For instance, my quads and calves (front and back) are stiff, with my glutes to a lesser extent. My PM mob/workout consists of the following:

      8 min smash – glutes and quads
      4 mins joint distraction – hip capsule
      4 sets of bodyweight squats with voodoo bands – 2 around knees and 2 around ankles
      15 mins elliptical machine
      4 mins- stretch quads

      Should I drop the glute work until my quads are more loose? I can barely squat unassisted (a few inches) and do them against a wall w/ an exercise ball. The box squat seems unachievable right now, until my mobility from the knee down improves and my t-spine clears some. I think I get your point though and will give some thought towards working within my existing range of motion, starting with bodyweight movements and prioritizing proper execution over weight.

      I’m familiar with the 14 day green light series but am unsure how to implement. Do I drop my existing approach for 2 weeks and follow the series precisely?


    • #77038
      AvatarPatrick Thomas

      You are doing mobility work, however, are not seeing much improvement.
      Taking another look at the situation can help. Taking a systems approach with the 4 systems in this episode.
      Pro Episode # 21 – Pro-User Request Friday: Not Seeing The Change? You Need a Systems Approach.

      Are you taking a look at daily movement patterns and technique with skills?
      You need to be using the tissue &taking it to end range.

      Have you voodoo wrapped your quads/hamstrings?
      A couple to check out.
      Pro Episode # 36 – Voodoo Floss Series # 3: The High Hamstring
      Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 – Voodoo Quad Smash
      Sunday August 6th, 2017- Hip Flexion

      Take a look at squat therapy to work on your squat technique.
      You can use a box as high as necessary to maintain correct mechanics and to maintain an arch.
      As things improve lower the height of box used.
      Identify elements you are able to do in pain free ranges and create a workout.

      Completing the 14 day challenge 7 green lights will give you end range of the most functional positions your body should be able to get into. Changing things up can be a good thing.

    • #77040
      AvatarTom Matchinsky

      You will never see permanent improvements in how your body moves if you don’t also train with weights. Go with dumbbells and kettlebells as they allow you to move freely without being fixed to a barbell. Lifting weights doesn’t have to mean barbell. The body works by you improving a position and then using any changes you have made with some load and tempo. The biggest mistake people make is stopping training for a long time to just work on mobility. It will not get you where you want to go. You have to train within your current capacity. 

      MWOD Staff
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