I was asked by a fellow coach the other day if I do any mobility work before training. I think my reply would be of benefit to some lifters, so here it is along with some elaboration.
Mobility work revolves around two perceived benefits: pain/injury prevention and preparing the range of motion for load (either to increase it or just work through the range about to be used). So really, we’re looking to avoid future pain and improve imminent performance. Here’s what I say to that: phooey.
If you want to warm up the range of motion you’re about to use, do the movement. Taking squatting as an example, this would mean empty bar squatting. For snatching, I use snatch pulls, overhead squats, drop snatches (because calling snatch balance drop snatch really annoys Giles) and empty bar snatches. If you can’t get your full ROM with an empty bar, something’s wrong, and you need to seek and destroy that problem. Except you should have done it before you got to the gym, which brings me to the other perceived benefit: injury prevention.
So you walk into a gym, and you know full well you can’t hit your positions (and will hurt yourself) if you don’t perform a bunch of band and soft tissue work, you messed up. How bad did you mess up? If you’re at this point, you’re already on the brink of injury. There’s nothing wrong with training injured - you work around the problems and do what you can. But if you have to rely on all this mobility crap just to get through a normal training session, you have issues that you’re ignoring. Worse still, you think your mobility work is helping these issues. If that’s the case, why do you have to do them every single workout? And why do you still get injured anyway?
It’s because mobility exercises are short term triage. It’s like a tourniquet on a gaping artery wound - it’ll do but it’s not going to solve the problem! The mobility work addresses the symptoms, but as soon as you finish training your body goes right back to how it was. It’s possible your form is a contributing factor, but most likely you walked in a wreck from computer work, driving, sitting too much, an old injury, or a combination of stress factors that chewed your movement up.
Once you get rid of the problems you don’t need mobility work any more. You do need to keep working to keep the stress reflexes at bay - stress is part of being human and it’s unavoidable. I’ve found the most effective way is to retrain the brain using Hanna Somatic Education. But here’s the kicker - it’s not something you do in the gym, and it’s not something you do occasionally. For too long mobility has been a thing you add to your training. I do not agree and most mobility exercises are a waste of your precious time. Quality movement is something you should educate yourself on and invest in daily whether you train or are sedentary. You should walk into the gym mobile, because you should be mobile right now.
This is a shambling, unedited mess, but up it goes on the site. It’s not a how-to but a commentary on fitness convention. I’m not trying to be deliberately controversial. I truly believe there’s a better way and mobility work is an industry, with a demand, that doesn't need to exist.