Posts Tagged ‘Stiffness’

Stiffness in relation to the body is something that you can describe with the point of just below rigidity. Mobility in this sense means to be supple and free. I have learned from my own experience about the importance of finding the balance between these two imperative aspects in maintaining physical capacity and especially recovery. Once we are injured or suffer any trauma in anyway and we do not possess the “best” treatment and rehabilitation knowledge, most of us will go down a path leading to a chronic vicious cycle involving stress and agony.

So back to the balance between stiffness and mobility. There is enormous support out there in both the literature and society that relaxation is much more beneficial than being stiff. However, for somebody who has had chronic debilitation for a long time, they may not know how much relaxation is ideal. For example, they feel relief from a single leg stance with total relaxation with the arch still pretty strong. BUT the brain and the tissues may be saying: “Oh that is a lot better, lets keep it this way for now.” Then after experiencing this relief, you start to realize that even though this relaxed state feels better than the “complete stiffness” you had before it is “still” causing you discomfort but of a different kind. Then you start to wonder why does it feel like this if “I am relaxed…?” 

Well the answer is that you have forgotten how to find the balance between being stiff and mobile. The brain and body is extremely smart as it keeps causing you discomfort as an alarm system to tell you that something is still off. So it is up to you to find the balance from being in one extreme – completely stiff (during period of recovery) into the other extreme – being completely relaxed. As Functional Movement Systems Gray Cook says: Once you gain some mobility go add some strength. This is the key to maintaining the balance between stiffness and mobility. Also, in a relaxed state as opposed to the stiff state, you will most likely be in a position which will reinforce your strength gains; but just not as ideal as in the balanced state.

Mobility = Towards suppleness and free.
Stability = Towards Stiffness

~Open Our Minds


“We must manage our minimums to effectively achieve our maximums.” – Functional Movement Systems

 This critically means we need to address all of our weakest links in order to create a stable foundation for us to begin to add load and weight on our bodies. Human bodies are probably the most versatile beings in the world because they can grow, change, and adapt to various kinds of stresses and forces placed on it. However, this also means we should be cautious on how much and when we load our bodies because even the smallest mistake can lead to a large injury. Weak links include muscle imbalances, left and right asymmetries, restricted range of motion, and simply tightness and stiffness. We must manage all these “minimums” in order to create that stable base we require in order to exercise safely and effectively. For example, if you cannot do an Active Straight Leg Raise on one side of the body then you have an asymmetry in your lower body (hips/legs etc). Whether this is due to muscle imbalances, decreased range of motion or tightness/stiffness is the second question. Here are some reasons why you might not be able to do the ASLR: You could have tight hamstrings (often viewed), tight hip flexors (iliacus/iliopsoas), or tight lumbar muscles (back is arched); or you could have an anteriorly rotated pelvis which causes the back muscles and hamstrings to have reduced stretch and also the anteriorly rotated pelvis can prevent the leg from raising further than it should be able to.
~Open Our Minds

We must look at our body like a bunch of different parts that are linked together by many joints.

The joint-to-joint approach looks at our joint tendency directions (the tendency for joints to move in a certain direction – towards stiffness or weakness) and what each joint is responsible for in our bodies. The foot is our stable platform that connects us with the surface of the ground and it has a tendency to move towards weakness therefore, we must maintain its stability. The ankle is a mobile joint and has a tendency to move towards stiffness therefore, we must maintain its mobility. The knee is a stable joint and therefore, we want to maintain its stability. The hip -> moves towards stiffness -> maintain mobility. The lumbar (lower back) region -> moves towards weakness -> maintain stability. The thoracic spine (T-spine) -> moves towards stiffness -> maintain mobility. The scapular region (shoulder) is a little more complicated because a lot are going on in this area. The scapula is the stabilizer of the shoulder joint and thoracic spine and it also controls/maintains the integrity of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint during movement. Therefore, we need to maintain the stability of the scapula along with mobility of the shoulder joint. And finally we have the cervical spine or neck area which is a mobile area and therefore, requires mobility to move effectively. As you can see, the joint-to-joint approach makes great sense if you think about it and it clearly shows us the importance of maintaining its preferred movement (mobile) or non-movement (stable) capabilities.

~Open Our Minds