More mobility is not always the answer.
You’ve probably dealt with minor joint pain or injury in the past, and your first thought was: “I need to stretch it”.
We’re here to tell you that you might’ve gone about it the wrong way.
Set aside for a second how ineffective static stretching is according to the current scientific literature and let’s pretend for a second that stretching is awesome at increasing mobility (and that the earth is flat).
There’s still a twist: more mobility may not actually be what you need to get rid of the pain.
In your body, there are joints that are meant to be mobile and others that are meant to be stable.
Hips and shoulders? Mobile joints.
Knees and lumbar spine? Definitely want them to be stable.
In fact, the stability in some joints is necessary for the neighboring joints to be mobile. And vice versa.
Take your “scaps”, for instance, a.k.a your shoulder blades. When stable, they allow your shoulder to move freely and safely. When your body doesn’t have the strength to stabilize your scaps, it will fall on your shoulder’s rotator cuff (a collection of tiny tissue) to stabilize whatever load you’re working against.
Problems like this have cascading effects. Your elbow is a stable joint that relies on your shoulder to be mobile. If your shoulder is now stiff, your elbow will now have to compensate for the lack of mobility. Hello, new inexplicable elbow pain.
The bottom line: you need to be both supple and strong.
Building strength in the stable joints is not sexy work but it is the absolute key ingredient in sustainable performance and being injury free. Take the time to incorporate stability work in your warmup and your training, do tempo work, do unilateral exercises, learn to properly brace before movement, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain.