I never knew what to think of it at first but it has happened enough now to accept that it happens and will continue to happen for a long time to come.

You know those moments when the light switch in your head goes off and you all of a sudden get slapped in the face by an idea that will forever change the way you think about a particular subject.
The type of slap that leaves a mark.

A mark that will positively affect your thinking moving forward and make you wonder what the hell  was running through your head when thinking back.

Here is one of these moments.

Long story short I was asked to design and instruct a course on mobility for trainers. No problem as it is something that I like talking about. The only stumbling block being what key points on the topic of mobility would I want to express within a set amount of time.

It had then occurred to me that I had made a critical mistake in the way I was going about expressing the topic of mobility.

I was treating it like a topic.

The fact is that even though mobility is unique in its own right it is still a part of a much bigger picture.

It is not just mobility. It is exercise and in order to truly express the topic of mobility by describing the benefits and throw some exercises at trainers does not do it justice.

It puts a label on a list of exercises and by doing that takes away from one very significant point. It's exercise. It is something that needs to be prescribed through continual assessment. It needs to be cued, it needs to be well executed, it needs to be progressive, and it needs to be prescribed to complement the goal that is laid out in front of you.

It goes well beyond just being categorized as mobility. To put it bluntly, if mobility is looked at as mobility and nothing else.....well then mobility isn't all that great.

Mobility Work? You're Damn Right It Is

To make mobility effective is to not label it as mobility but to integrate it as exercise intended to produce a desired movement. To do that requires polishing certain skills and thought processes behind your mobility prescription.

You Can't Have One Without The Other

Plain and simple you just can't make the most of mobilizing an area without cooperation from a surrounding area. The mobility/stability grid from the brilliant Mike Boyle lays it all out for you.
(Honorable mention going to the wrist and hand)











Lumbar Spine


Thoracic Spine




Gleno-Humeral Joint








Hinging has always been my favorite example to back up this chart as a linear hinge pattern certainly addresses a lot of the needs listed above. However when using it for mobilizing I often look to the areas requiring stability to assess any breaks in the chain because any lapse in stability can have profound effects on the mobilizing capability of the hinge.

Reason being if you are to see an inability for someone to create adequate foot stability all of a sudden mobility limitations of the ankle are showcased. Which of course alters the job description of the knee and forces it to work a lot of unnecessary overtime at the expense of it serving its true purpose listed above.

You want an example of it just try a standing body weight good morning with a soft knee as well as a slightly hyper-extended knee. two completely different movements with two completely different striking patterns of the foot.

Stability is something that cannot be overlooked if you are looking to enhance movement as it is one of many factors that you need to be constantly assessing not only in mobility work but all facets of exercise.

Mobility Requires Contact

The most generic answer I give when discussing mobility is that it is an ability to produce a desired movement. To really understand that is to take things well beyond just the quantitative prescription and understand that producing a desired movement requires the production of force. For that reason it is extremely important to understand what needs to happen at your points of contact.

By listening to your points of contact you will have the ability to produce the force required to initiate movement, to feel movement, and for the sake of continual assessment they will provide you with the end range feedback required to understand where limitations present themselves.

The six point squat has proven to be one of my favorites not only for the sake of mobilization and movement prep but also assessment.

Ross here provides a cool example of just that. He is a university level pitcher that came to me with pain in his throwing elbow. I like this movement for him due to its ability to begin mobilizing each shoulder.

Each point of contact has its purpose as he is driving the floor forward with his knees and toes in order to drive his hips back. He is pulling the floor back with his lead hand in order to provide length through his arm line and shoulder. What's great about it is that he is able to wrap his head around what his hips should be doing in a standing squat. On top of that it is his ability to control his hips that will determine what type of bang for the buck that your shoulder gets out of it.

What is also interesting is when he begins to feel length throughout the low back. Interesting because of what its potential effects on the throwing arm may be if he has limitations with his hip control that put him in a situation where he needs to overuse his low back.

All of a sudden the list of answers to the problem starts to grow. Continue mobilizing the hip and shoulder, piece together a resistance program that puts emphasis on redirecting load back into the glutes, trunk, and thoracic spine with the intention of him understanding the differentiation between the lumbar and thoracic region.

Which brings up another important factor.


The tight and weak mindset is a way of thinking that has cast a dark shadow over training the anterior chain.

While posterior chain strength is something that I would say we could all use a little more of based on lifestyle decisions the missing link to optimal use of the hip and thoracic spine is our ability to strengthen and control the anterior core region.

Stretching the pec and hip flexors will provide a band-aid solution but when it comes down to successful hip flexion and thoracic extension in a deep squat or the starting point of a deadlift. What it boils down to is how well you can expand your abdomen. For that reason I have integrated a lot of breathing voodoo into my programming in order to bring consciousness into something that we rarely do think about doing.

The effect for the majority of people that I work with? Those who want to get stronger become noticeably stronger. Those with low back pain progressively felt better and better as it restored function through the hip and changed their behavior when it comes to what and how much is being in movement.

Bring awareness to diaphragmatic breathing and integrate it not only in mobility work but resistance work to rethink the purpose of the abdomen as anterior core competence is absolutely vital to produce movement. It is just a matter of training the chain link fence effect of the trunk versus training the rigamortis effect that is commonly associated with core training.

It's All Exercise

I have seen it enough now to know that putting a label on mobility is to treat it as an engagement get out of jail free card. It's ''mobility'' so it has to be good right?

Truthfully its movement and movement is exercise so it needs to be treated like it. It needs to be understood, it needs to be assessed, and it needs to follow the same rules of regression and progression as anything else that is getting done in the gym.

Producing a desired movement requires a clear understanding of what needs to be moving in order to create that so mindfulness and efficiency should be a big part of what you are doing.

Let's not forget either that restoring movement is not just a product of ''mobility''.

Training is all about how well you can derive result. So if someone comes into me hoping to restore motion in their shoulder I am not just thinking mobility. I am seeking out every dirty trick in the book when it comes to all facets of exercise in order to get that bad boy moving and that makes the label of mobility a very small piece of quite a large exercise puzzle.