The human body is a beautiful and efficient machine. But we all go through times when our bodies begin to operate from a place of inefficiency due to injury or repetitive motion. You may be wondering how to approach getting your body back to that point of balance and what is more important to keeping yourself in optimal condition: stability or mobility?
By stability I mean the ability to keep your eyes level with the horizon. Your body is constantly giving your brain information about your surroundings so that it may adjust appropriately and have the correct muscles working to keep you upright. Stability is what allows the body to constantly make these adjustments.
Mobility is about how much range of motion is available at a given joint. Inability to move our joints through a full range of motion would make the joints more stable, but would it make our bodies more efficient? What happens if our muscles and joints are too mobile? We've all seen people who are extremely flexible and been amazed at the things they can do with their bodies, but have you ever wondered if those extremes are healthy for a body to stay in balance? When someone is extremely flexible their bodies can move beyond "normal" ranges of motion, but what happens if the joint doesn't stop moving? In most cases, soft tissue injuries to muscle and ligaments will occur. A simple way to tell mobility at the shoulder is to compare each shoulder to the other against a wall with your elbows bent to 90 degrees (see photo at right). Then, rotate the back of your hands toward the wall. Which one goes farther?
So, which is more important: mobility or stability? I believe that both go hand in hand, but that there is a protocol as far as what should be performed first. According to Paul Chek of the C.H.E.K. Institute, an educational facility for health and fitness professionals that combines orthopedics, exercise prescription, performance conditioning and alternative healthcare, optimal mobility of any joint should be established before performing any stability exercise. Remember that your body is a system, and that a fault anywhere in the system can lead to dysfunction. If you have a limited range of motion in your back due to tightness and your performance is limited, it makes sense to try and restore normal range of motion prior to increasing stability and strength.
In an era when human beings are more sedentary than any other time in our...