Mobility seems to be a word thrown around by trainers and health professionals, but what is mobility and why is it so important in our everyday lives? Mobility basically means the range of motion that your joint has when it moves. Range of motion can be limited by many things including tight muscles or tendons, damage to structures within the joint such as cartilage, and nervous system response.
The more range of motion that you have, the more power and strength you have to perform a movement and the less likely you are to injure yourself. Often people get injured through performing a movement outside of their active range of motion and this is where the injuries happen.
Mobility is usually the first thing we realise when we don’t have it anymore. Maybe there was a time when you struggled to reach for something or do something due to the lack of range in the joint. Maybe you reached for something and got a cramp or pulled your back out. These all come back to mobility.
Here are some tips for improving flexibility:
1. Stretch more often: After classes, on days when you don’t go to the gym, and regularly throughout the day. Hold static stretches for at least 20 seconds to get the most benefit at a range that is firm but not hurting.
2. Foam Roller or trigger ball: These tools are great for targeting tight muscles or spots both before and after your training session. There are various sizes and densities, so do some research or ask a professional for advice before purchasing.
3. Work the range: Whether it be through a fluid movement (like a body weighted squat) or using equipment to leverage your range a little more, these movements will help with flexibility and range of motion.
4. Look at core stability: The more stable your torso is, the more range your limbs will have.
5. Look at the big picture: The body works as one whole, so if the hamstrings are tight for example, this may impact on the range the opposite shoulder has. Mobility should focus on the whole body not just individual joints or muscles.
6. Switch on the muscles that should be working: We tend to be programmed to switch particular muscles on based on what we have always done. You can re-train your body to switch on the correct muscles to work more efficiently and reduce injury.
Improving mobility is one thing, maintaining it is another. Maintaining mobility through regular classes such as Calisthenics or Bouldering will make a huge difference. These types of classes encourage the correct muscles to activate and release tissues in the body that may limit movements.
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