Monday, January 11, 2010

Hows Your Mobility - Part 1

Ankle Mobility

The joint by joint approach formulated by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook is something that has had a huge positive impact on the strength and conditioning industry.Its impact is also being strongly felt in the rehabilitation field among some physiothearpists, and many other manual therapists.

I for one use the joint by joint approach to drive all my training with my athletes. It is so brilliant and yet so simple at the same time. As I once heard Tim Vagen say about the joint by joint approach " I wish I had thought it up first". Me too Tim, me too.

The following outline is adapted for Boyle/Cook:

The Joint by Joint Approach:




Thoracic Spine (Mid Back)

Gleno-Humeral (Shoulder) Joint




Lumbar Spine

Scapulae (Shoulder Blades)

As you can see from the outline above the joint by joint approach shows us that are joints alternate between mobility and stability. Now what do you think happens if we lose our mobility in one of our mobile segments? Well..........

Ok, I'll just tell you then. Keep your underwear on!!

Lets use the hips as an example. If I start to lose my hip mobility, my body will start tocompensate with motion at the LUMBAR SPINE, or the KNEE. Now according to joint by joint chart above the lumbar spine and knee are meant to be stable. So, do you think that it is a good idea for stable segments to begin to become mobile segments? Well..........

Thats right! Hell No!

So when someone comes to me with pain in their knee, I want to look at their ankle, and hip mobility. When someone comes to me with pain in their low back, I want to look at their hip, and thoracic spine mobility. When someone comes to me with pain in their shoulder, I want to look at their thoracic spine mobility, and how their scapulae sit on their thorax.

As we age we start to lose our mobility in our mobile joints, and to compensate for this we start to give up stability in our stable joints to be able to move.

The following outline shows what can happen to our joints as we age:

Adapted from Mike Boyle:

Mobile Segments:

Ankle -

Hips -

Thoracic Spine -

Gleno-Humeral Joint -

Stable Segments:

Foot +

Knee +

Lumbar Spine +

Scapulae +


Less range of motion = -

Increased range of motion = +

So as you can see, mobility, and stability work is vital for your health and longevity.Below are two sample ankle mobility exercises that I use with my athletes. I have to give credit here to Mike Boyle (once again), as I got these mobility exercises from him.

Ankle Mobility 1:

The key with this exercise is to keep your heel of your front foot down. It cannot raise off the ground. All you simply do is drive your knee straight over your toes as far forward as possible, while keeping your heel down. Lightly touch your knee off the wall. When you feel that you can comfortablely touch your knee off the wall while keeping the heel down, move your foot back slightly and challenge yourself to get an extra bit of motion.

Ankle Mobilty 2:

With this exercise for the ankle you are achieving mobility in a more frontal and transverse (side to side, and rotation motion) plane of motion. The first mobility exercise we did above, mobilised the ankle in the sagittal (straight forward motion) plane. The key to this exercise is to keep the toes of the foot on the ground pointed forward toward the wall.

Give these a try,

Until next time,

Stay Strong,


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