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Break Free Of The Injury Cycle

A core component to treating (and ultimately minimizing) injuries is to Mobilize and Stabilize. 

Yes, those seem like opposing things, but there is a good reason. Some areas of our bodies need movement, but because of our postures, positions, and habits we maintain on a daily basis, we do not have the movement required in those areas. These areas need mobilized. Some areas of our bodies need control and stability, especially as we increase the volume of work we are doing. These areas need to be stabilized. 

Why Mobility Matters 

Some of the muscle strain type injuries we develop are due to this lack of mobility. If an area is not moving easily through the range you need it to in order for you to perform the activity you want to perform, the muscles surrounding the area are required to work harder to get the area to move and/or other areas of the body compensate to allow you to perform a movement. 

Just as an example, this can be one (of many) of the causes of shin splints in runners. Due to the shoes people wear and the amount of sitting most people do, ankle mobility is often lacking when it comes to the ability to pull your toes up toward you.  That motion is required when we bring our foot forward, and even more important when running uphill or on uneven terrain. If you do not have good motion in the ankle, the muscles on the front of your leg end up kicking in overdrive to pull the foot up every time. Eventually, the muscles fatigue, resulting in shin splints. 

Another example with lacking ankle mobility is back pain when squatting. Our bodies require a certain amount of ankle dorsiflexion so the lower leg can move forward properly and allow your torso to stay upright. If you lack the mobility necessary, your body will compensate to keep your center of gravity. This compensation often results in an increased forward trunk lean. Over time, that forward trunk lean places increased stress on the low back musculature, resulting in pain. 

Why Stability Matters 

On the other hand, some of the muscle and tendon injuries we get are due to a lack of stability and control. Every time we move, certain areas of our body need to be stable.  As resistance or volume (reps or steps) increase, the muscles are required to work harder and longer to stabilize. If we don’t have good stability or muscular endurance, those areas fatigue quickly and result in pain and injury. 

A common example is shoulder pain. The shoulder is a very mobile joint, so we have a lot of small, deep muscles that stabilize it and keep it in place. When we are doing anything overhead or hanging, those muscles are firing. With the training you do day after day, if you aren’t strengthening them properly they will eventually tighten up and stay tight. This happens initially without you even realizing it is happening. Eventually, it results in shoulder pain. 

The Fix 

The only way to truly resolve injuries (after you addressed the pain symptoms themselves) and keep them resolved is to address the mobility and stability deficits. If this is ignored, the pain will return and you will essentially continue in the injury cycle you are stuck in. 

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