Stability Vs Mobility – Why Stability Rules The Road In Performance [2018 Update]
I’m a stability guy, 100%.
If you ask me, ‘Hey Doc, what do you think is the most neglected part of building a better athlete and helping to prevent injuries in the performance game?’
My answer is… working on stability.
What Is Stability?
Stability is the ability to control movement under change. Stability is force control. The body must efficiently absorb, direct, disperse, generate and release forces acting upon it. From gravity, the ground, and impact forces. If this ability is compromised there is potential for injury and decreased durability.
Can you control all the mobility, power, and speed that is a fundamental part of being an athlete?
Can you control moments of chaos that happen on the field or in the heat of competition?
What I like to call… training for the unexpected.
￼￼Now don’t get me wrong, mobility work is certainly an important part of programming and training.
It’s hard to move if you don’t have the requisite mobility to perform the desired task. Increasing soft tissue and joint range of motion via stretching, foam rolling, etc., is a part of most well-designed training regimens. The problem is, I see people working on increasing mobility that never seems to stick. The immobility keeps returning.
Why does the body want to keep locking down the joints and soft tissue? One word… safety. It doesn’t feel safe in letting you put full throttle on movement because there is an underlying instability somewhere in the movement chain.
Your brain puts the brakes on movement so you don’t get hurt. To move beyond that barrier you must incorporate movement variability training so the body becomes comfortable with change.When it can change and adapt it unleashes the beast. Here are some easy ways to incorporate movement variability exercises for commonly injured areas into your existing program.
These should be done after your initial warm-up and mobility exercises. In time, you may find yourself needing fewer mobility exercises. One of the primary mechanisms to increase stability is by using perturbation. Perturbation is a change or disturbance in the normal state or regular movement of something. Simply stated, we want to throw some chaos into the system under a controlled environment. Outside stimuli such as pushing, pulling, tapping, vibrating, etc., are good examples.Quality over quantity is the name of the game!Click To Tweet
Inversion ankle sprains are common injuries in the world of sports. The goal is to help the ankle joint feel comfortable going into slight inversion when training so if and when the time comes an inversion sprain situation arises, the brain and body know how to respond. The goal is to help the ankle joint feel comfortable going into slight inversion when training so if and when the time comes an inversion sprain situation arises, the brain and body know how to respond.
- Stretch the calf muscles.
- Perform circular motions of the ankle in clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
- Complete your favorite ankle mobility drill.
- Then while standing invert the foot so that are standing more on the outside portion of the foot.
- Get comfortable in that position. You should feel no pain. If you have experienced prior ankle inversion sprains perform this movement carefully.
- Now walk forwards, backward, and sideways while maintaining this foot position.
- Putting the foot into mild inversion during these movements helps increase position sense of the joint. The ankle begins to adapt to new variables.
- Now stand with feet inverted and have someone stand behind you. They will lightly push you forwards, backward, and sideways using perturbation and your goal is to remain stable.
Core. Hip. Shoulder:
- Get on all fours.
- Hands below the shoulders and knees below the hips.
- Ankles in a dorsiflexed position (toes into the ground).
- Reach out one arm in front of you and keep the head in neutral (no extension or flexion).
- Have someone stand beside you and push you lightly sideways from both sides (perturbation).
- Try to maintain your balance. Do not hold your breath. Breath normally.
- Repeat with the opposite arm and notice any difference. Now do one leg at a time.
- Push the leg up, down, and sideways. How does one side feel against the other?
Progression is to use opposite arm and opposite leg reaching out and then use perturbation.
This is a fantastic stability exercise for the core as well as the shoulders and hips which must maintain contact with the ground. You will be sweating in no time.
- Put your arms straight in front of you at chest level with fingers interlaced.
- Get into a scissor stance, one foot in front of the other and slight bend in the knees.
- Have someone stand in front of you. They will push, pull, twist your arms in all directions while you maintain the integrity of the stance.
- Do not hold your breath and focus eyes forward. Do not over grip the fingers. Try to resist from the core, not the hands. Too much grip indicates poor core stabilization.
- Now perform with eyes closed and maintain the same integrity. Switch stance so the back leg is forward and repeat.
- Perform a single set of each of the above-listed exercises a few times a week. You can do them before, during, or after a workout. Remember these movements are about control.
Small changes create big results in the world of stability. You don’t have to get crazy with exercises that look like you are in the circus for them to be effective. Overloading the body with too much stability challenge too soon will create more dysfunctional compensations patterns. Overloading the body with too much stability challenge too soon will create more dysfunctional compensations patterns.