Joint Mobility AND Stability

Joint Mobility

By now, everyone should be familiar with Coach Boyle’s Joint-by-Joint approach to training.

In fact, I thought it was so great I tried to take it a step further in my Mobility-Stability Continuum article. (Just watch out for the NSFW pictures – I don’t get much say in what T-muscle promotes in that regard!)

But this has gotten me thinking – I think there are two joints that are really critical to fluid, effective movement.

And within that line of thinking, I feel like they (possibly more so than any other joints in the body) need a balance of both mobility AND stability to be truly effective.

Those two joints are the hips and scapulae.

I know, I know – maybe this isn’t totally original thought, but hear me out.

The hips and pelvis

Think about the hips – if they don’t have a very specific blend of mobility, motor control, stability AND strength, chances are you’re either more likely to get injured, or at the very least, compromising your performance.

Poor hip internal rotation is linked to back pain in golfers.  And I’m pretty sure we can all agree that limited hip mobility in general is a key in back pain patients as well.

Poor hip strength has been tied to low back pain, patello-femoral pain, and even overuse injuries of the lower leg (such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.)


The scapulae are similar as well.  Research has shown that if our scapulae are unstable, we’re at increased risk for gleno-humeral joint and/or rotator cuff problems.

But we also know that if we don’t have that requisite mobility or movement capacity from the scapulae, we’re going to have issues going overhead, not just in the gym but in everyday life. Hello shoulder impingement!

And we haven’t even discussed further down the kinetic chain – examining how poor scapulae/shoulder mechanics affect the elbow and/or wrist.

So I keep coming back to the importance of the hips and scapulae. I’d love a great term for them; something along the line of “drivers,” as they tend to drive a lot of total-body motion.

Here’s another nugget that may interest only me:

Both of these joints are incredibly reliant on other joints (namely the pelvis and thoracic spine) to put them in the right “place.”

But that’s another post for another day.

So I’m interested in your guys’ thoughts – are you seeing the same things?

Would you agree that the hips and scapulae are vitally important to efficient and clean movement?

Would you argue that another joint, or joints, are more important to examine?

I’ll be interested in reading your thoughts below!

Stay strong



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  1. I believe the pelvis is important. Having suffered from pelvic instability for a while, I know how important it is to the whole body and the effects of misalignment to the back muscles. A Robertson 'how to' guide on stabilising the pelvis would be awesome.

  2. I think the hips are very important to clean movement as they can have a huge effect on the joints below them as well as above them.

  3. Mike, I was actually just thinking about putting together a blog entry on this very subject. I was going to take the approach that I learned from you the first time I saw you speak (first annual performance enhancement seminar you and Bill held). That is, I was going to put stability and mobility on a continuum and place different joints along the continuum. The scapulothoracic joint and the hip joint would be more towards the middle, whereas the knee, for example would be far towards the stability end of the continuum, and the t-spine would fall more under mobility.

  4. I have always told my clients that the scapulae are a key area for upper body/upper extremity issues (with a huge tie-in with the T-spine), and the hips/pelvis are the key to lower body/lower extremity issues.
    As Patrick mentioned, they may not be more important than other regions, but they are two "go to" regions I assess for dysfunction.
    I think you are preaching to the choir, here!

  5. My history of 23 years of practice shows that when people are kyphotic and restricted T-scapulae motion they will invariably have SI dysfunction on at least one side and it's usually very fixed. You will also see a forward head posture. If they are pitchers they are usually a wreck. Correction of underlying problems can be challenging since it takes time and patience on both the practictioner and patient. Steve Edling D.C.

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