The Importance of Utilization After Mobilization

  • Let’s say you lack a specific range-of-motion. You mobilize and mobilize that area and now you feel nice and loose. Now what? Do you call it a day and relax? Do you go for a new max lift? Yea you have access to a new range, but can you properly control that range? This new range is one that:
    1. Your joints are not that familiar with,
    2. May be unstable,
    3. May make you more prone to injury, and
    4. Is not a part of your usual motor pattern.
  • Whenever you mobilize an area it’s important to employ that new range (with and without load), to create a neural circuit that the body is familiar using, not just accessing. Making sure it becomes a long-term pattern and not a short-term one. This means making sure that you can properly control it, and that it’s stable and able to sustain a load. To do this, it’s important to:
    • Perform stability exercises in that range
    • Re-create the desired movement pattern using light loads (before it’s progressed to heavy loads)
  • This goes for any type of mobilization, whether it be after ones you perform on yourself (like foam rolling, stretching, yoga) or ones that therapists do for you (assisted manual therapy or adjustments). Gaining access to the new range is the first step, and learning to use that range is the next! Once you develop that neural circuit and your brain is familiar using it with load, you are now a lot less likely to experience pain and sustain an injury in that range. Like Dr. Phil Sizer says, “The system in pain is like a ship lost at sea. Manual therapy is the rudder that gets the ship back on course and exercise is the wind that fills the sails and keeps the ship moving forward.”
  • Mobilize then Utilize!


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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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