Mobility Training Programs for Sports Performance

20 Jul Mobility Training Programs for Sports Performance

Performance training for the athlete requires a comprehensive approach to mobility training for each joint within the kinetic chain. A review of the Mobility/Stability Pattern of Human Movement indicates the ankle, hip, thoracic spine, gleno-humeral, and wrist joints require large ranges of motion in order for optimal movement during athletic performance. As a result, the strength and conditioning coach should look to develop a mobility program incorporating a multifaceted series of exercises and modalities to develop the range of motion exercises for each of the aforementioned joints.

Mobility Training Programs

Recognizing the importance of joint mobility, soft tissue extensibility, and functional movement as it pertains to optimal performance, a series of sample mobility programs are provided for the ankle, hip, thoracic spine, and gleno-humeral joint.

Again, these are only sample programs to provide the strength and conditioning coach an understanding of how to structure mobility training for sports peformance. It is again extremely important for the fitness professional to utilize a comprehensive set of physical screens to assess their athlete first, and then develop a mobility program relative to the findings within the assessment for each individual athlete.

Ankle

Limited dorsiflexion within the ankle will often impede in the ability of the athlete to maintain the proper postural positions during athletic actions in addition to limiting triple extension. The initial step in the development of corrective/performance training strategies for the ankle is assessment. The utilization of the static postural assessment, standing rotation test, and overhead squat should provide the strength and conditioning coach the required information to determine if dysfunction exists within the ankle joint.

Once dysfunction has been determined the process to improve range of motion within the ankle joint becomes a 3-step process. The first step is the implementation of exercise to inhibit the over-activity within muscle spindles, improve viscoelasticity within the fascia system, and increase extensibility within the muscular system associate with the ankle joint.

Secondly, the fitness professional will introduce exercises into the program to improve extensibility within the muscular system, and increase motor control. The final step is dynamic mobility training. These exercises will integrate the ankle into total body multi-planar exercises.

Sample Mobility Program Ankle

1. Self-Myofascial Release Techniques: Foam Roller, Stick, Massage Ball

2. Soft Tissue Extensibility Modalities: Static Stretching, PNF, Neuromuscular Stretching

3. Joint Range of Motion Exercises: Active ROM Exercises

4. Dynamic Training: Multi-planar Functional Movement Exercises

Hip

The hip, where the femur inserts into the pelvis, is a ball and socket joint. Internal and external rotation is extremely important relative to executing the rotary movements within the golf swing. A lack of mobility within this joint can severely hamper the ability of your athletes to generate power, change direction, and transfer energy efficiently through the kinetic chain.

As with the ankle, the first step in the development of a mobility program for the hip is assessment. Once the assessment process is complete, the fitness professional can then develop the proper corrective and performance training program for the client. The comprehensive approach to mobility training for the hip will include self-myofascial release, soft tissue extensibility, range of motion, and dynamic exercises.

Sample Mobility Program Hip

1. Self-Myofascial Release Techniques: Foam Roller, Stick, Massage Ball

2. Soft Tissue Extensibility Modalities: Static Stretching, PNF, Neuromuscular Stretching

3. Joint Range of Motion Exercises: Active ROM Exercises

4. Dynamic Training: Multi-planar Functional Movement Exercises

Thoracic Spine

Mobility limitations in the thoracic spine often creates difficulty for the athlete to create upper body rotation. Compensations in posture, poor transfer of power to upper extremities, and lower back injuries are often associated with limited mobility in the thoracic spine. It is extremely important for the fitness professional to decipher between the thoracic spine and scapular-thoracic region of the posterior chain. The thoracic spine must be mobile and scapular- thoracic region stable in order to execute human movement efficiently.

Mobility limitations in the thoracic spine will often be viewed in the static postural assessment, overhead squat, and the standing rotation physical screens. If mobility is found to be limited in the thoracic spine the implementation of corrective exercise in the form of responsive flexibility exercises will be the first step. Once complete the fitness professional can then introduce self-myofascial release, joint range of motion, and dynamic training modalities into the athlete’s training program.

Sample Mobility Program Thoracic Spine

1. Self-Myofascial Release Techniques: Foam Roller, Stick, Massage Ball

2. Joint Range of Motion Exercises: Active ROM Exercises

3. Dynamic Training: Multi-planar Functional Movement Exercises

Gleno-Humeral Joint

The gleno-humeral joint as with the hip is a ball and socket joint where medial and lateral rotation is extremely important for overhead throwing and striking athletes. Mobility limitations in the gleno-humeral joint often affect the ability to create an efficient overhead throwing motion.

Once any dysfunction has been determined with the gleno-humeral joint through a series of physical screens, the fitness professional can begin to address the shoulder joint with a series of responsive, operational, and dynamic mobility exercises. As with the other joints in the kinetic chain, a comprehensive set of flexibility and range of motion exercises is best to address dysfunction within this joint.

Sample Gleno-Humeral Mobility Program

1. Self-Myofascial Release Techniques: Foam Roller, Stick, Massage Ball

2. Soft Tissue Extensibility Modalities: Static Stretching, PNF, Neuromuscular Stretching

3. Joint Range of Motion Exercises: Active ROM Exercises

4. Dynamic Training: Multi-planar Functional Movement Exercises

Summary

The number of flexibility and range of motion exercises available to the strength and conditioning coach are vast. Numerous modalities, training programs, and techniques exist for the health professional to utilize with their client base. It is important to remember the requirements of the kinetic chain relative human movement and understand any dysfunction within the mobility/stability pattern of human movement will adversely effect sports performance.

The process of developing a comprehensive mobility program for sports performance begins with the assessment. The utilization of a series of physical screens will assist in determining if any dysfunction exists in the kinectic chain. Once dysfunction of the kinetic chain has been identified, the next step is the development of a comprehensive flexibility program.

A comprehensive mobility program will utilize a number of different modalities to improve extensibility, reduce hypertonicity, and increase joint range of motion. Through this systematic process the conditioning coach can reduce the chance of injury, increase joint range of motion, improve quality of life, and provide their athlete’s with the opportunity for improved performance during competition.

About Performance Coach Sean Cochran: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized performance coaches in sports today. A career spanning positions with 2 major league baseball organizations, over 10 years on the PGA Tour and work with top professionals including three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson, future hall of fame Trevor Hoffman, and Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy provides Sean a proven track record of success.  He has been involved in the production of numerous performance videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts, and Fit to Hit. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the world renowned Titleist Performance Institute.

Article References

Baechle, T.R., R.W. Earle, and D. Wathen. 2000 Resistance Training. In Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (2nd ed.), edited by T.R. Baechle and R.W. Earle. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Boyle, M. 2004 Plyometric Training for Power, Targeted Torso Training and Rotational Strength. In Functional Training for Sports, edited by E. McNeely. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Chek, P. 1999 Power Training, Flexibility: A Balancing Act, How to Warm-Up for Golf in The Golf Biomechanic’s Manual, edited by J. Alexander. Encinitas, CA: C.H.E.K Institute

Clark, M. 2001 Integrated Training, Human Movement Science, Current Concepts in Flexibility Training, Core Stabilization Training, Neuromuscular Stabilization Training. In Integrated Training for the New Millennium, edited by J. Jackson. Thousand Oaks, CA: National Academy of Sports Medicine

Clark, M., Corn, R., Lucent, S., Kinetic Chain Checkpoints, Corrective Exercise, Calabasas, CA:  National Academy of Sports Medicine

Cook, G. 2003 Mobility and Stability. In Athletic Body in Balance, edited by M. Barnard. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Enoka, R. 1998 Human Movement Forces, Torque, Musckoskeletal Organization, Movement Strategies. In Neuromechanical Basis of Kinesiology, edited by R. Frey. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Hay, J. 1993 Angular Kinematics, Angular Kinetics, Golf in The Biomechanics of Sports Techniques, edited by T. Bolen. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

Rose, G. Kinematic Sequence, TPI Golf Fitness Instructor Manual, Oceanside, CA: Titleist Performance Institute

Santanna, J.C. 2004, Training Variables in The Essence of Program Design, Boca Rotan, FL: Optimum Performance Systems

Verstegen, M. Williams P., 2004 Movement Prep, Prehab, Elasticity in Core Performance, edited by J. Williams. United States of America: Rodale