Doctor's Blog

What if I told you your mobility problem is a stability problem in disguise?

Everyone in the fitness industry is hammering home the importance of mobility right now. And yes, mobility is very important. Without proper mobility, you cannot execute most movements that you would do in the gym or on the field, without compensating somewhere else in your kinetic chain to complete the movement. If you have a compensation(s) you are putting yourself at increased risk of injury. So obviously, if you do have a mobility problem, you must work at correcting it so that you can perform at your best. However, it is important to first determine if you in fact have a true mobility problem, because time is precious and you don’t need to spend time fixing something that already works just fine.

So, how do you determine if you have a stability problem instead of a mobility problem? Well, it’s difficult for an individual to determine if they have a stability problem or a mobility problem on their own. You need to find someone that has training and experience in assessing movement. That’s where the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) come in. The FMS is a great screening tool used by personal trainers, coaches and health care professionals to determine if a person can move properly through 7 basic movement patterns. The FMS does not necessarily identify a specific problem in people who don’t receive a passing score on a movement, it just lets the person doing the screen know that there is a problem somewhere. So, if you don’t pass your FMS, OR if there is pain during any of the movements, it would then be appropriate for a licensed healthcare professional (such as a chiropractor, physical therapist, or certified athletic trainer) to do a SFMA to identify the specific problem area(s) in your kinetic chain, and develop a treatment plan based on the findings. The SFMA will tell us whether it is a mobility problem or a Stability Motor Control Dysfunction (SMCD), or a combination of both.

Objective movement assessments, like the SFMA are excellent ways of identifying where in your kinetic chain your major area of dysfunction(s) is(are) AND if you have a mobility problem or if you have a SMCD. Occasionally, an objective movement assessment will determine that you don’t have a mobility problem at all - you just lack the STABILITY Motor Control to properly utilize the mobility that you already have! When this is the case, your brain and muscles do not know how to properly coordinate a movement to use that mobility. If this is you, you can hammer on mobility drills all day and night, and you will make no progress in correcting your problem. (Cook G.)

Fixing SMCD’s requires a carefully programmed series of corrective exercises to retrain your brain and the muscles to move through that dysfunctional pattern correctly. In some cases, this means breaking you down to your most primitive movements, to retrain you in how to move correctly so that you can STABILIZE your body to use the mobility that you already have.

SMCD can also be corrected very quickly with

SMCD can also be corrected very quickly with chiropractic adjustments if it is determined via a chiropractic analysis that the structures of the spine have shifted. This is because Structural shifts in the spine distort the joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons in the area that has shifted which causes a neurological effect called Somatosensory Disintegration. Somatosensory Disintegration means that brain can’t properly process the sensory input from the mechanoreceptors in those joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons in the affected area of the body. This then has a global effect on the body because of the way everything is connected via fascia. Chiropractic adjustments correct structural shifts, removing distortion on the joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons and thereby reversing the effects of the Somatosensory Disintegration. (Taylor HH.) When your brain is able to properly integrate the sensory information, it is constantly receiving from the mechanoreceptors in your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, it can then properly coordinate them to move fully within the mobility that you already possess.

If your spine has shifted out of alignment and you have an SMCD, just doing corrective exercises will not be effective in fixing your stability motor control problem. Combining chiropractic adjustments AND corrective exercises in your training plan will get you back to 100% better, faster, for longer, and keep you stronger so that you can perform, move, function, and recover at your personal best for many years to come.

--Dr. Kris


Cook G. Movement: Functional movement systems: Screening, assessment, corrective strategies. On Target Publications; 2010 Jul 15.

Taylor HH, Holt K, Murphy B. Exploring the neuromodulatory effects of the vertebral subluxation and chiropractic care. Chiropractic Journal of Australia. 2010 Mar;40(1):37.