Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mobility training is fake stretching

The new athlete said to me: “I do my mobility work and then I feel good for a while but during the workout I feel all stiff again.”

I said: “Before we go any further I just to make it clear I don’t use the word ‘mobility’, at least not in the way it is currently used.”

Athlete: “Why not?”

IK: “I believe the term mobility is used to give people the feeling they are doing what stretching used to do for them before the ‘stretching inquisition’. In other words it’s fake stretching, and it’s about as effective as a fake.”

Athlete: “Why do people say stretching is bad and mobility exercises are better?”

IK: “Let me share with you my observations over the last few decades. First athletes stretched or they didn’t, depending on their sport historical or their own individual influences. For example, track and field and dance and martial arts and gymnastics were great examples of sports that stretched. But not the only ones. I can remember attention given to stretching in one of my first weightlifting books, and also in other strength books from the 1970s.

There was no judgment – you either did it or not. Then I noted the rise of popularity in stretching and at the same time the rise of individuals and organizations such as academic institutions keen to control sport and leave their foot print.

Now the individuals involved in seeking to be in control for the most part didn’t stretch themselves, were not flexible and no-one had worked out how to make money from stretching.

I believe this is why stretching is being demonized. I suggest that when those who seek to control information and trends find themselves able to touch their toes or make a quick buck, you will be given the green light.

But you don’t have to wait – you can take the benefits of stretching right now.

As for ‘mobility’ warm ups – apart from raising body and joint temperature (which are good things) they have no significant impact on flexibility. So stop kidding yourself. Stretch first, and then if you need or want specific warm ups, do activities that you are going to be done in load – not some non-specific irrelevant exercise just because everyone else is….

So if you are training with us, there will be no fake stretching….”


  1. Coach,

    First of all I want to say that I always do static strething before a workout as you recommend. I'm finishing the intermediate program of the BOM, after finishing the beginner. I love the book!
    But I have a question about "mobility" (the way it's currently used).
    I saw a lot of videos of lets say Kelly Starrett performing some mobility drills and showing that we can increse the range of motion on practically every part of the body. He does it with lacrosse balls, rubber bands, foam rollers, etc.
    Now I dont understand the actual process behind these drills, but if it's really possible to do that, isn't that exactly what we need before a workout? But you say it does nothing on flexibility so I'm puzzled with this. It's maybe that the impact of mobility work does not last as long as stretching does? Or do you belive that it does not increase the range of motion in the first place?
    I will still follow your advice on stretching though. I believe you know best, but would just like to understand. Thank you.


  2. Your post makes me confuse, because as an athlete our coaches advised us to to do some stretching before we proceed to our training, when I'm at home I did some stretching with my pro bar