In our previous blog post, Mobility vs Flexibility, we taught you how you can easily screen your joints to see if you have adequate joint range of motion (ROM). If you haven’t read that post, do it now!

In that joint screening, we looked at both passive ROM and active ROM. We then determined that if you have limited passive ROM, you have some mobility work you need to do. We also determined that if you have adequate passive ROM, but lack similar active ROM, you also have some work to do.

Believe it or not, there are different types of mobility work, all with different purposes and intentions. The purpose of this blog post is to differentiate when to use these different types of mobility training. Which type to use (and when) all starts with the results from your initial joint screening. Let the screen guide your mobility training!

If you have:

  • Limited passive ROM –> you need to expand your passive ROM
  • Normal passive ROM, but limited active ROM –> you need to expand your active ROM
  • Normal passive ROM and normal active ROM –> you can work on increasing your strength at your end ranges of motion and you can focus on increasing your control of your ROM

Again, there are different strategies to achieve these desired results.

Limited Passive ROM:

To expand your passive range of motion, you need to implement a strategy that targets not only the targeted tissue, but also the neurological system. You can do this through a process of active isometric stretching called “PAILS/RAILS.”

  • PAILS = progressive angular isometric loading
  • RAILS = regressive angular isometric loading

This type of stretching strategically stimulates adaptation at both the cellular level and the neurological level. You will gradually increase your passive ROM, as well as your active ROM.

If you have limited passive ROM, you would also benefit greatly from finding a trusted manual therapist to help assist you with soft-tissue work (a physical therapist, chiropractor, etc.).

Normal Passive ROM, But Limited Active ROM:

To increase your active ROM, you need an active strategy. This solution can be achieved in a few ways, including PAILS/RAILS, end-range lift-offs, and passive-range holds.

All of these strategies require your muscles to work actively at their end-ranges. By strengthening your end-ranges, you not only increase your active ROM, but you also increase your control of that ROM.

Normal Passive ROM And Normal Active ROM:

If your passive ROM is normal, and your active ROM is within a few degrees of your passive ROM, consider that normal. It is likely you will always have slightly more passive ROM than active ROM.

If you want to continue working on your mobility, however, you can still do that! You achieve this through the same strategies utilized for expanding your active ROM (PAILS/RAILS, end-range lift-offs, and passive-range holds), or you can implement a few other strategies (hovers and eccentric neural grooving).

Hovers and eccentric neural grooving are strategies that really focus on strengthening your end-ranges of motion, as well as increasing your active control of your range.

As you can see, to achieve a desired result, you need the correct strategy.

Mobility training is called “training” for a reason. You have to train specifically for the desired result. Remember, it all starts with a proper joint screen/assessment. 

In our next blog post, we will break down these types of mobility strategies and explain them in slightly more detail.


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