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Mobility Before Stability

Have you ever done an overhead shoulder press and felt some pinching pain in the shoulder at the end range? Or maybe some discomfort in the hip at the bottom of your squat depth? Let’s talk about mobility and range of motion! As a physical therapist, I always preach mobility before stability. So, what does that mean? If you are lacking the necessary mobility to perform a given movement, this can result in a break down in form and compensation by the body to make up for that lack of available range of motion.

Let’s use the example of the overhead shoulder press. Normal range of motion for shoulder flexion (i.e., reaching overhead) is 180 degrees. I’m a big advocate of strengthening through the entire range of motion. BUT what happens if you only have 160 degrees of motion and now you are overhead pressing with resistance past that range? It can result in other regions of the body having to pick up slack to make up for the lack of mobility at the shoulder and the shoulder joint becoming irritated.

This is where the concept of mobility before stability comes in. You need to figure out what is causing that mobility deficit. Is it tightness in the latissimus dorsi? Is it a lack of lower trap strength? Is it tightness in the thoracic spine (i.e., mid back)? This is just one example, but you can see how other areas of the body play a role in how efficiently we move.

Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t strengthen at all. It may be a matter of strengthening through your available range of motion for the time being and modifying your activities while you work on gaining back the remaining degrees of motion.

If you are dealing with a similar scenario that is preventing you from getting the best out of your workouts, don’t hesitate to reach out to Trident Physical Therapy.

Dr. Matthew Barle PT, DPT, CSCS, USA-W, TPI-1, GTS Doctor of Physical Therapist | Strength Coach

Trident Physical Therapy

298 Sunrise Hwy, Rockville Centre, NY 11570


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