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“Mobility” is one of those buzz words people hear in the sports and fitness industry, but don’t generally understand.

The detail junkie coaches get hung up on the minute differences between words like flexibility and mobility, arguing about which method of improving it is best, whereas the public just get confused.

Regardless of what we end up calling it, all we’re really trying to achieve with mobility, flexibility, pliability (or any other “ility” that’s currently in favour), is improve movement.

With the industry standard approaches to improving movement, there’s generally three crucial elements missing:

1. Respect the Rest of the Body

Methods like foam rolling and stretching have been developed to try to release the tension in individual muscles, but that doesn’t give the brain chance to recognise, respond to or absorb the changes that were made with respect to the rest of the body.

It’s no secret that everything in the body is connected to everything else, so when tension is released from one part, the consequences include tension changes in other muscles and joint position changes too.

The problem with using these kinds of methods is that the body isn’t given any help to accept these changes. We just take away the tension in one muscle (or muscle group) and expect the body to adapt by itself.

2. Experience the New Range of Motion

Part of helping the brain accept these new changes is to give it the experience of immediately USING the new range of motion.

Failure to do this often leads to the same tension coming back to the muscle we just released it from, which creates a false belief that “I need to spend more time on mobility” and can be a huge part of the reason that our people say things like “mobility doesn’t work for me”.

3.  Coordinate the New Range of Motion

While the Corrective Exercise process involves both foam rolling and stretching, it does at least attempt to help the brain by using an integrated movement at the end. But it’s a long-drawn-out process, which most people don’t want to follow, they just want to get on with warming up so they can get to the training.

Obviously, it’s a different story if the client is under the care of a specialist who is trying to fix a particular problem and the client actually wants to work in that way, but these people are in the minority.

The Gray Institute uses a process called 3D Dynamic Stretching, which is the closest thing I’ve found to covering all three of these crucial elements, but after years of using this with my own clients, I found that people get stuck in a “release the tension, tighten back up again”, yo-yo cycle, that never really seems to get broken using this approach.

That’s why I developed a process that I call the 3M Flow. It’s heavily based on the Gray Institute’s 3D Dynamic Stretching, but I added two extra layers, so now we can take things to the next level, and achieve so much more, much faster than before.

Here’s how the 3M Flow works:

Step 1: Micro Movements (3D Dynamic Stretching)

Position yourself with one foot in front of the other. We’ll be working on the hip of the back foot. The 3D Dynamic Stretching approach recommends small, gentle, slow, and pain-free movements in front to back, side to side and rotating directions.

The movement allows the brain to release tension with respect to the rest of the body, allows us to work on multiple joints at once and by doing that, find tight areas that we would never find if we had to logically think it through.

Every single muscle in the body works in every direction and each is contributing to the control of movement. That’s it. Some muscles will lengthen to help control the movement, some will shorten, and when we use hip circles in this split stance position, they’ll do a bit of both.

These small movements are what I call a “Micro” movements and they for the first M of the 3M Flow.

Step 2: Midi Movements

Once the hip has loosened up using the Micro movements, it’s time to help the brain experience the new, full range of movement of the hip.

You can do that by keeping your feet in exactly the same place, keeping your legs straight, bending forward from the hip and extending the spine slightly backwards when returning to standing.

This simple action helps my brain recognise how far I can bend and extend my hip now compared to before. This is important because it’s the newest experience that the brain refers to when making decisions, which helps the brain to accept the new improved joint movement as the new normal.

Step 3: Maxi Movements

The brain is coordinating trillions of cells in the body at lightning speed in every second of every day, even when we’re asleep. It’s what the brain does best, so to further embed the new improved joint movement as normal, coordinating the new full joint range of motion with other movement in the body is vital.

What this movement looks like will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. In a warmup situation, big, whole-body movements that increase the heart rate are perfect.

In our split stance example, you could add a spinal rotation to your bend and extend “Midi” movement. Not only does this increase complexity, which challenges coordination, but it also challenges balance, proprioception and much more.

In a cool down situation, these big, vigorous movements wouldn’t be appropriate so you might use something simple like nodding your head or opening and closing your hands to challenge coordination without raising the heart rate too much.

Both are vital “Maxi” movements that serve to solidify the new joint range as normal and break the endless yo-yo cycle of loosening and tightening that all active people get stuck in.

The 3M Flow is taught on the “Injury Hacking Certification” course (Level 2) but until then, if you’re serious about helping your people to avoid injury and you don’t want to jump through tedious specialism hoops, then you’re invited to come and join our Injury Hacking community at where you can hang out with other Injury Hackers and gain some cool insights like this one!

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