At the teacher training that I led this month, one thing that I emphasized was the importance of balancing stability and mobility. I feel this is important for teachers to realize because this is exactly why there is no such thing as a perfect program that works for everyone.
Those students who are too tight lean on the stability side of the see-saw. Their mobility suffers as a result. They could benefit from tension-release methods to work out tightness. This includes methods such as relaxing onto foam rollers or massage balls, getting body work, etc. They also need ooey-gooey (in the really good way) movement to work into those tight places. One thing to keep in mind when working with tightness is that you shouldn’t be stretching the same muscle over and over. If you have a muscle that is always tight, it’s likely a sign of muscle weakness elsewhere or tension that needs to be released. While stretching is an important part of the equation, don’t hammer away at the same spot over and over. Attacking from different angles will get you better results.
As for those bendy people…you know the ones. The 9 year old who can sit her butt on her head. The hypermobile joints at the elbow and knee. If you’re a teacher, you know what I’m talking about. These are the students are tipping the see-saw on the mobility side and as a result, they are often missing out on some badly needed stability.I’ve sought the advice of Brooke Thomas to weigh in on this discussion. Here is her contribution to the discussion:
“Sometimes the bendy people who are having physical problems as a result of it are characterized as having joint hypermobility syndrome
, which leads, as I mentioned above, to pain, a higher incidence of dislocations and sprains, and a higher incidence of osteoarthritis (which happens from the over-mobile joints sliding around and damaging tissue). Ouch.
In joint hypermobility syndrome (don’t let the word “syndrome” irritate, this is basically just a label for the common experience of hypermobility) the ligaments, which basically function as the strapping tape of our joints by connecting bone to bone, are considered the problem for being too loose. This is indeed a problem, as ligaments have no recoil property. Meaning, they don’t bounce back from their end range. Imagine the difference between a rubber band and Silly Putty. Stretch out the elastic and “boing!” back it goes. Stretch out the Silly Putty and you have stringy globbery-goop.
This is the trouble with hypermobility, and why it shouldn’t be glorified.
Fortunately, we are not just a bunch of parts. We are a unified organism. So, if your ligaments are too loose, you have a whole lot of other soft tissue to help you out with support, provided they have the opportunity to come into balance.
Remember those things we love to talk about called muscles? Their job is actually to determine appropriate range for a joint (i.e. where the bones get to go). This means if they are functioning in a balanced way, the ligaments do not need to take on a load. And our muscles weave into the bones
, and all of this is living in a sea, inside and out, of fascia
. So you’ve got oodles of support if you can find your way to balance.”
You can read more of the article by Brooke Thomas by going here.
The ideal scenario is a perfect balance between stability and mobility. Only use stretching as one tool to help you gain mobility. When you have the desired range of motion, stop. Only use tension as a mechanism for gaining stability. When you have the desired stability, stop. Balance–it does the body good.
Brooke Thomas has been in the field professionally for nearly thirteen years as a Rolfing practitioner, and more recently as a Yoga Tune Up teacher and Corrective Exercise Specialist. She is also the founder of Fascia Freedom Fighters, a website dedicated to liberating bodies from chronic pain, mobility issues, and subpar performance.