T Nation

Injure Yourself to Mobility?

Dunno if you guys’ve read the ‘6 weeks of squatting insanity’ article on TNation, but the guy who wrote it claimed to be in a similar boat to a lot of us - he was doing all of the planks, hip flexor stretches, glute bridges, dynamic mobility complexes …etc… forever, but then he stopped doing all of it and focused on max effort squatting every day for 6 weeks - despite not having good enough mobility to safely squat with maximal loads. That’s right, 6 weeks of pure maximal squatting with no stretching, no warmups and no mobility work.

The purpose was to allow himself to become injured and tight - excruciatingly tight, in fact. He claimed that his muscles became a rigid cast around his spine, and, when he finally stopped squatting for a week and went back to the mobility drills, his anterior pelvic tilt was gone, he was supple as a baby…etc…

In other words, he needed to injure himself and become tight to allow the mobility work to do its job.

Would you suggest doing a similar approach?

If not, what tweak did you give to your mobility work to suddenly make it do its job?

Thanks in advance!!

[quote]alternate wrote:
and focused on max effort squatting every day for 6 weeks[/quote]

I’m not sure if you’re mis-reading the article, but on the first week the back squats are at 80%, definitely not max effort. Weeks 2 and 4 call for maxing out, but week 3 is at 87%, week 5 the only max is on Saturday and week 6 is whatever. Sunday is also a rest day by the looks of it.

Hellish, definitely, but also not what you’re describing it as.

I am definitely not an expert in the area, but it wouldn’t surprise me if his nervous system pretty much deactivated where/when it could, causing him to essentially unlearn bad posture and so on. Maybe like how foam rolling is supposed to work, but in a much more intense manner.

While it’s possible that his muscles formed a cast around his spine, at his age I’d expect all the postural changes to be muscle based and not skeletal, so when he says that his spine straightened itself out, I’d probably say that his spinal muscles fixed themselves, causing his spine to be fixed.

Like I said though, I’m not an expert.

I agree with 238. I think the program taxed his nervous system to the point that it reacted to the threat by tensing up all his muscles to keep his joints safe and as he pushed it further, his nervous system had to go into overdrive. When he finallly backed off, his nervous system “realized” that it was safe to go further and it did not have to protectively fire, so he was able to gain range-of-motion seemingly instantly. This is like an extreme, whole-body version of PNF.

I think it worked for him because he was already very experienced and had years of training and frequent squatting under his belt. I think the thing that has people confused about the article is that he is not actually trying to get injured, rather his mindset was to push himself and not be afraid of injury even if the workouts were very painful. The take-away message was to push through the pain, not to try to get yourself injured. Less experienced lifters would get injured, just like they would if they jumped into Smolov, but his experience saved him. At this point, he was really training his nervous system to adapt to frequent, heavy squatting.

^^ So for those of us for whom mobility drills are not working - is this the approach we need to take?

Just brute force our bodies into mobility and posture correction with heavy squats?

It is an approach you could try out if you were an experienced lifter, so you would probably not want to do it until your squat is up quite a bit more. And he didn’t force his muscles into an overstretch using heavy weight, he just lifted maximally over a period of time and the mobility came afterwards when his nervous system adjusted.

Instead of thinking about flexibility as stretching your tissues, I think it is more useful and physiologically correct to think of it as modifying your nervous system.

For less advanced lifters, I would still advocate active exercises rather than passive stretching exercises to increase mobility. I tend to agree a lot with the recent article “Heavy Lifts to Increase Mobility”, but I don’t think the lifts necessarily need to be heavy to begin with.

I am a big fan of overhead squats with the bar to increase squat ROM and to eliminate butt wink, bulgarian split squats for hip flexor ROM, RDL’s for hip hinging ROM, and wider stance squats for hip abduction/external rotation ROM. Kettlebell swings also help mobility, although it is easy to push them too far and round your back.

[quote]smallmike wrote:
This is like an extreme, whole-body version of PNF.

What is PNF?

[quote]VTBalla34 wrote:

[quote]smallmike wrote:
This is like an extreme, whole-body version of PNF.

What is PNF?[/quote]

proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation

a type of stretching where you take the muscle to a certain length, then flex the shit out of the muscle perhaps against a partners resistance, hold the contraction then release and stretch further…repeat. its suppose to help by shutting down some of the neural tension put on the muscle