I haven’t warmed up or foam rolled in over 2 years, and yet I feel fantastic physically. I move well, I lift heavy, and I enjoy my workouts/playtime more because I don’t have to spend extra time doing things that aren’t conducive to my workout goals. In fact, my movement quality has increased dramatically in the last 2 years, and I contribute not warming up or foam rolling to that.
Let me explain.
It started with the idea of experimenting with getting my soft tissue to a higher quality tone (so, as few knots, sticky spots, etc as possible) without the use of massage (whether it be from a therapist or a lacrosse ball/foam roller). After all, old school martial artists (especially Kung Fu-type martial arts) never had these tools, nor did they get regular massages, yet they can move like none other! I began exploring different ways to manipulate my soft tissue through movement, and found that foam rollers, though useful with the right implementations, aren’t necessary about 95% of the time.
The key: Mobility work with attentiveness and intention.
I prepare my body to do what I want it to do later. I’m making sure the joints move as they should. Muscles follow joints. Joints follow muscles. I get them working as they should, and then they can be used correctly during my workout. If your joints and muscles work correctly during your workout, you get much bigger gainz, no matter what your goal.
Before any planned strenuous workout that I do (anything from hand balance stuff/stupid human tricks, heavy lifts, martial arts, mobility, flexibility, etc), instead of just going through a series of movements that will “get the blood flowing” or smashing my soft tissue with round objects, I’ll do mobility drills, focusing on the parts of my body that will be worked (which 99% of the time is everything). I don’t do any stretching, physical warming (ie jump rope/jog in place/jumping jacks). Only mobility. If I feel like my breathing needs attention, I’ll give a couple minutes to breathing, and then be conscious about that while I do my mobility. If my back (“Stega”) is feeling funky, I’ll get it back in line and be conscious of that during my mobility and my workout. But the rest of it is simply just good quality mobility (NOT flexibility) work! The whole thing takes maybe 2-5 minutes before I start with my actual workout. I’m not sweating, I’m not tired, I feel refreshed, and ready to use my energy towards my workout, and not on my warm up. My brain and body also have a much better connection because of it, making my actual workouts even more effective.
(edit: If I’m lifting heavy that day, I’ll do a set or two of lighter lifts after my mobility and build up to heavy….but that *should* be common sense to any experienced lifter)
After my workout, I might do some more mobility stuff if I feel like my workout would make me sore anywhere, or if something in my workout made Stega upset (it’s pretty sensitive, despite what’s depicted on social media). Making sure my body is working properly before and after my workouts/playtime allows me the freedom to not have to rely on outside sources to take care of my body, and is a more complete approach to soft tissue care.
To be absolutely transparent, in the last few years, I have gotten a few full body massages (for self-pampering purposes, not therapeutic), and each time, the therapist would assume I had regular bodywork done because of the quality of my soft tissue.
Since then, many of my physical capabilities have gotten better than they ever have in my life, I don’t have to explain to airport security why I have a ball with metal in it (lacrosse ball) in my carry on every time I travel, and I don’t have to look for “something to foam roll with” when I want to get a workout in. Less is more. Mobility is the the perfect movement prep. Ironic, isn’t it?
Move it or Lose it.