Mobility Training vs Personal Training vs Physical Therapy vs Massage vs Chiropractic Care  

Heard about Mobility Training?  Not really sure what it is, or whether it’s helpful for you?  Maybe you are considering seeing a physical therapist or a personal trainer?  This article compares Mobility Training to a number of different body mechanics specialties.

Mobility Training vs Personal Training
  • Mobility Training is focused on strengthening weakened muscles, loosening muscles that are too tight, restoring full range of motion, and stabilizing joints to improve control and balance.  Sessions generally include 12-14 mobility exercises targeted to strengthen or mobilize the area causing the problem.
  • Personal Training is focused on improving fitness which includes weight loss, strength training, and improving general physical preparedness.  Personal Training sessions generally include 4-8 full body exercises with more of focus on improving body composition and performance as compared to Mobility Sessions.
  • What if you need both?  Then you’ll get both.  All of our mobility and personal training session are customized.  We’ll guide you in prioritizing which style of training will be most effective with your personal trainer.

Want to learn more about Mobility and Flexibility Training?  View all of our Mobility/Flexibility Articles.

Interested in trying a Mobility Session?  Book a Mobility and Flexibility Session

Mobility Training vs Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy is designed to help you restore basic muscle function after a traumatic event.  Car accident, sport injury, slip and fall, etc.  Typically, you meet with your physical therapist for about 20 minutes, and you exercise on your own (with a physical therapist tech) for about 20 minutes.  Then you’ll ice or heat the joint.  Physical therapy is low intensity exercise, targeted at just the joint or injury causing you pain.  Physical therapy isn’t designed to restore full strength or improve performance.  It’s designed to allow you to cook, drive yourself to work, walk up stairs, etc.  In case your are wondering, Physiotherapy is practically the same as Physical Therapy.  Physiotherapy is the British term.

Mobility Training generally starts where physical therapy stops.  Mobility training is about improving performance of the muscle or joint to athletic levels.  Mobility training is about raising the bar in creating strength where you lack control.  Mobility training helps mobilize muscles so that you can more efficiently workout with better form and better technique.  At Sand & Steel, we fully support our local physical therapists (like Solutions PT and Valens PT).  If you’ve been severely injured, start there.  They take medical insurance!  And when you find they have helped you as much as medical insurance regulations allow, come to Sand & Steel, because we’ll take you to the next level.

Mobility Training vs Physical Therapy

Massage Therapy: massage therapy is an excellent way to loosen tightened muscles.  There are many great massage centers in Old Town, Alexandria.  We recommend clients see a masseuse once every other month.  Massage works by breaking muscle adhesions that naturally form by placing the body in the same position for extended periods of time.

With Mobility Training:  we provide much the same benefits of massage by using MWOD tools such as the battlestar, occlusion bands, super nova, and other mobility tools.  We systemically find tightened fascia and mobilize it through techniques such as fascial release, PNF, and Flossing.  In terms of benefits, massage is easier because your masseuse does all the work.  With Mobility and Flexibility Training, you’ll build strength while you mobilize the joint.  However, you have to do the work, and we coach you on how to do it.

Mobility Training vs Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors are very concerned on providing proper spinal alignment and motion around joints.  Chiropractors often prescribe the same exercises that Mobility Specialists do.   With a chiropractor, you’ll like get an electrical stim treatment so that your chiropractor can see two patients at once (this is again a function of insurance paying Chiropractors low premiums).  Problem with that is electrostim from a TENS machine doesn’t strengthen muscles.

I’m sorry to have to burst this money bubble for chiropractors (and I hope the chiro you are seeing doesn’t use TENS), but the academic research is pretty conclusive.

Electrical muscle stimulation devices (EMS) have been advertised to increase muscle strength, to decrease body weight and body fat, and to improve muscle firmness and tone in healthy individuals. This study sought to test those claims. Twenty-seven college-aged volunteers were assigned to either an EMS (n = 16) or control group (n = 11). The EMS group underwent stimulation 3 times per week following the manufacturer’s recommendations, whereas the control group underwent concurrent sham stimulation sessions. Bilaterally, the muscles stimulated included the biceps femoris, quadriceps, biceps, triceps, and abdominals (rectus abdominus and obliques). An identical pre- and posttesting battery included measurements of body weight, body fat (via skinfolds), girths, isometric and isokinetic strength (biceps, triceps, quadriceps, hamstrings), and appearance (via photographs from the front, side, and back). EMS had no significant effect on the any of the measured parameters. Thus, claims relative to the effectiveness of EMS for the apparently healthy individual are not supported by the findings of this study.

 2002 May;16(2):165-72.  Getting that issue out of the way, Chiropractors (and very qualified Personal Trainers) are excellent at diagnosing limitations in range of motion (this is known as Goniometry).  Whereas an experienced personal trainer excels is in determining which muscles are weak and which muscles are too strong, Chiropractors are more concerned with finding proper alignment during activities like standing and sitting.  In order exercise safely, we need to minimize Muscle Strength Imbalances.  An overdeveloped muscle often causes the weaker muscle to get injured.  So if you frequently pull your hamstrings, you might find that your quadriceps-to-hamstring-strength-ratio is off.

Mobility Vs…

So now that you know the differences between Mobility Training vs other types of body works services, the question to ask yourself is, “Is Mobility Training for you?”

Here’s the four questions to consider:  are you:

  1. frequently injured in the same general area?
  2. have tightness in specific locations (hamstrings, back, shoulders)?
  3. reach plateaus in your own training?
  4. have trouble building strength?

If you answered yes to any of the following questions, then we would recommend you seeing a mobility specialist for a diagnostic session.

About Coach Paul

Paul Bio PictureView my Bio | Email me
BioMedical Engineering - Johns Hopkins University.
Juris Doctorate - Rutgers.
M|WOD, CrossFit Level II, 3DMAPS, FMSII, YBT, RKC, TRX, PN.

Paul has trained over 3000 clients and more than a 100 personal trainers over his 10 years as a mobility and strength coach.  He emphasizes safety and corrective exercises in all programming (strength, weight loss, conditioning, etc.)  His practice focuses on improving flawed movement patterns to prevent injury and improve skeletal-muscular function.  Paul employs a balanced approach in training utilizing his training Yoga, CrossFit, Powerlifting, and Movement Courses to systematically strengthen weakened muscles and mobilize joints and muscle tissue.  Move Better ... Train Better.

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