Back pain during or after a run or ride If the Joint Don’t Move
If you struggle getting into good positions for your sport, whether you’re a runner or a cyclist. For example, if you find that you’re sort of rounded in your shoulders in your back, and you’re trying to hinge frame your hips, but you just can’t seem to do it because you’re stuck up here, there’s a good chance that there’s a combination of lack of joint mobility of the actual capsule and muscle flexibility, as well as stability of that joint with those muscles. So what I mean by that is, one of my favorite sayings is, if the joint don’t move, the muscles can’t move it. The main job of most skeletal muscles is to move a joint, whether it’s a shoulder joint, whether it’s an elbow joint, whether it’s a hip joint, the muscles that move the joint can only move the joint if the joint itself has enough mobility.
So think of it this way. I’m sure you’ve heard of frozen shoulder. With frozen shoulder, the problem is actually in the capsule, not the muscles itself, so you can stretch all day but you’re not going to feel better because the problem is in the capsule, which is why sometimes if you do have frozen shoulder and you hold on to a pull up bar, and you hang on there for a minute or so, you start to feel better, and the reason for that is because you are stretching the inferior part of that shoulder capsule. You’re doing, essentially, an inferior glide, and it feels good. The problem is that it only works on one part of the capsule, and you need to work all parts of a capsule specifically for frozen shoulder.
The same is true for any joint. So if there’s any restriction in the joint, it doesn’t matter how much you stretch the muscles around the joint, the muscles that move the joint, the problem is in the joint itself, and so you have to work the mobility of the joint before you can actually start working on the flexibility of the muscles.
Now is it the chicken or egg? Is it that the muscles got so tight and then the muscles weren’t able to move the joint causing restrictions in the joint capsule itself, or is it that the joint capsule was really tight, causing tight muscles? It doesn’t really matter, chicken or the egg. We do need to do both, and also, if the joint is tight and then the muscles are tight, the muscles aren’t going to have enough length to give the power it needs in order to move that joint. So if you’re working on power or if you’re struggling, gaining a better FTP if you’re a cyclist or a runner, or any sort of activity that you’re doing, if you’re having a hard time gaining power, there’s a good chance that the problem is in the mobility of the joint itself.
If you don’t fix mobility issues then chances are you’ll find a way to compensate and use muscles that have a different job to help you. For example you’ll recruit your big back muscles when doing a hip hinge, instead of your hip extensors, or you’ll recruit your back extensors to stabilize your trunk instead of the core stabilizers. This will not only fatigue these muscles, but more than likely eventually can cause injury to them. You’re compensating, and I’m sure you’re aware of how quickly and how easily we as humans can compensate using the wrong muscle groups to do a job that they weren’t meant to do.
So if your muscles aren’t moving the joint, you’ve got to work the joint mobility. You also have to work the flexibility of the muscles itself in order for you to work on gaining the power of those muscles. Last but not least, are you using the right group of muscles, or are you cheating using movers, rather than stabilizers? Ask yourself that. What muscle group is more tired during your sport? If it’s the muscles that are not supposed to be doing the majority of the heavy lifting, then chances are you’re not using the stabilizers, you don’t have enough mobility of the joints that are supposed to move that joint, and you’re not engaging the right muscles to produce the power that you need. So begin to improve joint mobility, muscle flexibility and muscle power to stabilize the joints of the spine and extremities. This will not only help you feel better, but significantly improve your performance.