Do we need mobility as strength athletes? - Craig Spicer

I spend my days working with strength athletes, getting them motivated to get under the bar and move weight is the easy part! Persuading athlete’s to tend to the finer details of maintaining tissue and joint function is a much harder task.

Basic Biomechanics is used to both maximise performance and prevent injury, something that I cover on workshops and these principles go hand in hand. An athlete is unable to train if they are injured so minimising the risk of injury is paramount. If an athlete is unable to emit power in the desired range of movement due to tight, dysfunctional or over/under active tissue their ability to fulfil their potential has diminished.

A lot of athletes I come into contact with are keen to get strong and gain strength as fast as possible. Unless you are able to appreciate absolute strength for what it truly is, weightlifting is a marathon and not a sprint. Natural raw strength takes time to build, especially with optimal form and little to no injury. Most of this is not muscular but the ability for connective tissue to accommodate your new found strength from the muscle body and control that output. If you don’t allow the body (Ligaments and tendons) time to adapt and learn good movement, you can have all the power in the world, if your body can’t emit that power, in essence it’s useless.

There is an abundance of research which supports the exclusion of static and some that discounts dynamic stretching prior to maximal strength exercises, suggesting they do not increase the ability to exert power (Gill 2016). What Gill (2016) does not take into account is the further application of post strength training mobility which Kallerud and Gleeson (2013) look to address.  Whilst they concur with Gills theory on pre-training static stretching they found no negative acute effect of dynamic stretching. They suggested that athletes that require great range of motion (ROM) and speed in their sport, long-term post stretching successfully enhances flexibility without negatively affecting performance. Acute dynamic stretching may also be effective in inducing smaller gains in ROM prior to performance without any negative effects being observed.

The way I apply this to my athletes is to understand how they move compared to how they need to move both optimally within their sport and also to allow them to stay injury free, continuing to train. Some of my athletes are prescribed specific amounts of daily mobility to address area affecting performance, others are guided as mechanical issues or tension occurs. Every athlete should be treated as the individual they are.

I have recently put together a few free mobility routines specifically aimed at weightlifters, please get in contact at the link below if you would like them!

Craig Spicer

https://www.facebook.com/craig.spiceruk

References:

Gill, A. H. (2016). STRETCHING THE TRUTH: A REVIEW OF LITERATURE ON THE EFFECTS OF STATIC AND DYNAMIC STRETCHING PROTOCOLS ON STRENGTH AND POWER PERFORMANCE. Journal Of Australian Strength & Conditioning

Kallerud, H., & Gleeson, N. (2013). Effects of Stretching on Performances Involving Stretch-Shortening Cycles. Sports Medicine