01 Oct Augmented Mobility (a play on Augmented Reality)
Tackling on to the popularity of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) concepts, we thought it would be fun to explore the analogue equivalent for physical training by coining the terms “Augmented Mobility”.
Wikipedia sources describe Augmented Reality in the following terms:
An interactive experience of a real world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information. AR brings components of the digital world into an individual’s perception of the real world, through the integration of immersive sensations that are perceived as natural parts of an environment.
AR alters perception of the real environment (photo above). VR replaces the environment with a simulated one (photo below).
AR can be either constructive (by adding to the existing environment), destructive (by masking the real environment), seamlessly interwoven with the physical world and/or be an immersive aspect of the real environment. AR is Pokémon Go! and VR is the “holodeck” from Star Trek.
Augmented Mobility (AM in the present context) provides an analogue experience where you integrate available fitness equipment into your individual baseline of movement and “augment” either the range of motion (ROM) or muscular effort through increased resistance.
Manipulation of the latter affects the former in opposite ways, and vice-versa, like communicating vases.
HOW DO WE AUGMENT MOBILITY?
First we must establish a baseline of movement for the individual, so we have a measure of progress, whether it be an increase in range of motion or muscular resistance. We can use our visual sense, which is not very scientific but still observably accurate, and note either an increase in range of motion (ROM) from the baseline, or perceived rate of exertion, muscular effort by obtaining feedback from the person being tested.
We can also get more scientific with a goniometer, take a picture before and after and draw cool angles and measure differences for ROM. We can also go hardcore and do an EMG (electromyogram) to measure muscular effort.
In his Practical Guide to Physical Education, Georges Hébert discusses the importance of what he calls “basic educational exercises”, or “elementary exercises” (renamed “fundamental exercises” in Volume 2 of the Natural Method series). These are essentially mobility drills with multiple purposes and benefits.
FUNDAMENTAL EXERCISES: WHAT THEY ARE AND WHAT THEY DO
- Specific stances and movements of the trunk and limbs, chosen and regulated specifically so as to produce clear and defined effects on various parts of the body.
NOTE: Equipment is not necessary to produce an intense effort or to reap benefits in movement, but shouldn’t be rejected (we are on the ProBar Mobility site after all, and while we will discuss movements with other devices, we think the ProBar delivers in a superior fashion!)
BENEFITS OF FUNDAMENTAL EXERCISES
- Expansion of the thoracic cage, to provide flow for the heart and lungs.
- Increase in respiratory capacity, on which a major portion of the individual’s strength and vigor depend on.
- Strengthening of the abdominal wall, to brace or contain digestive and visceral organs, prevent obesity and hernias.
- Development of the muscular system in a harmonious way.
- Mobility in all joints and articulations, to promote or maintain flexibility.
- Seeking and maintaining proper body alignment.
- Riddance of any postural dysfunctions, such as rounded back, hunched shoulders or excessive lumbar curve.
WHY ADD EQUIPMENT THEN?
While equipment is not necessary to produce an intense effort, and the body can be used “by itself” as a gymnastics tool (gymnastics not in the sense of the sport original, rather as bodyweight calisthenics), and the above list of benefits can still be reaped, it does provide certain advantages:
- Variety, relief from monotony in training.
- Develop a higher level of absolute strength.
- Fixed equipment can serve as an anchor, a base of support to produce more amplitude and/or to correct form/technique.
When training with equipment, remember the goal is not to produce maximal effort (no 1RM training here or heavy PR’s, that’s a different category and goal), you have to take the following into consideration:
- Execute movements with slower cadence than free-hand, relative to the weight of the equipment.
- For a movement to be correct, it needs to be performed in its desired amplitude/ROM (muscular development and free-play of the joints). If you seek a “squat to parallel”, not necessarily “butt to ground”.
- Free weights add to the “gravity” of body parts (gravity’s natural downward pull), therefore relative strength of individuals dictates the loads for full amplitude in contraction.
- If a movement is not easy to perform, the weight or resistance is considered too heavy or strong (warm-up vs “working loads”). Ideally we should strive to not lose any ROM, but at least maintain its baseline alignment/ROM while producing a greater muscular effort through the resistance provided by equipment.
ENTER THE PROBAR
The ProBar’s versatility (multiple tools into one, ability to create muscular contractions in anterior and posterior chains at once), portability (does the work of some effective yet cumbersome cable systems without the inconvenience of being a fixed piece of equipment) and intuitive use (after minimal instruction) allows the individual to work with it across modalities, whether the goals are for yoga, pilates, power lifting, Olympic lifting or other.
Its self-correcting, “auto-dialing” feature into the CNS system, through its patented inner-spring mechanism (“twist & pull”), recruits muscles in the posterior upper thoracic chain, an area of the body of overwhelmingly common (modern yet centuries old) postural dysfunctions.
By correcting and restoring movement function in the shoulder joint, the spine realigns, neck extends more upright, which then straightens an unnatural lumbar curve and loosens/opens up the hips. Weight is shifted and gait is improved.
While the above potential is by no means an absolute claim, and of course, other structural or muscular dysfunctions may exist (for which the ProBar has applications as well, covered in the Foundations Courses and Master Trainer program), tackling issues one at a time permits a better identification of sources of problems and single variable factor modifications (translation: if one thing reaps a lot of benefits and makes things work, let’s not over complicate. If there are still things to fix, we address them one by one).
Philippe Til is a trainer, fitness entrepreneur/product creator -inventor of the ProBar- as well as product and education consultant for various fitness brands (Terracore, Procedos P9, TE3 Mobility), as well as a published author of History-based physical education books. You can sign up for his newsletter and get updates on various workshops and events on his website.