Better Movement And Performance
Do you want to lift more, jump higher, run faster, and be able to move without pain? If you’re active and exercising regularly, the reason you may not be reaching your goals isn’t for lack of activity, but rather lack of mobility.
If you take the time to think about it, the one thing that helps everyone push themselves and achieve their fitness goals is improving their range of motion. The more flexibility you acquire, the easier it’ll be to perform assorted movements and workouts.
There are several factors in our daily life that can affect our physical well-being and leave us feeling stiff, sore, or even aged beyond our years; sitting at your desk for extended hours, intense workouts without stretching, overall lack of movement, or even repetitive movements that comprise our range of motion can leave our bodies feeling tight…and old. For those that work out intensely or regularly, this can sometimes take a toll on performance. While past research suggests the importance of stretching as a solution, recent studies have found that the benefits of mobility training surpass those of stretching, particularly for those engaging in physical activity.
So What Exactly is Mobility?
Believe it or not, flexibility and mobility are not the same things. While they’re often used interchangeably, flexibility is simply a component of mobility.
Mobility is the ability of a joint to move through its entire range of motion fluidly. It’s essentially an all-encompassing term for the various elements that contribute to the full range of motion movement, which includes restricted muscle tissue, joints, motor control, as well as your soft tissues (muscles). Mobility is not just about the muscles, but the joints that allow for movement as well.
Flexibility, on the other hand, is a term that refers to the ability of your soft tissues to stretch when needed. Muscles are similar to rubber bands. If you pull both ends of a rubber band, it will stretch (i.e. it’s flexible). Our muscles are designed with similar elasticity that, when needed for movement, helps the muscle to stretch.
Why is Mobility Important?
When YOU possess good mobility, you are able to perform functional movements without limitations on your range of motion. However, if YOU possess good flexibility (strength, balance, and coordination) but lack good mobility, you may not be able to perform the same movements as well, thus limiting the effectiveness of your efforts.
In simpler terms — mobility means having strength within your flexibility.
Remember to be Safe
When practicing mobility exercises or focusing on Recovery, a balance of caution and stretch is everything! This is why many fitness centers and gyms offer RECOVERY classes and training.
You should never overextend yourself in any move. Start slowly, possibly not even completing full movements, until you are warmed up and feel that a greater range of motion is possible. Little by little, work up to bigger moves and stretches. If you have any injuries, especially ensure you take care in those areas and avoid any exercises that cause pain. Also, if you take a Recovery class, be sure to discuss injuries with your coach or trainer to understand alternate movements or stretches to avoid.
FITNESS PROJECT® has recently added FP RECOVERY to the Studio Fitness training classes. FP RECOVERY will help you facilitate blood flow and speed up the healing of muscles! Trained coaches will lead you through a low-intensity class focused on increased functional recovery. Benefits include stress reduction, improved performance, & enhanced mind/body connection. Feeling stressed, sore, overwhelmed, and everything in between? Take some time to reset with this Full-Body Recovery Class.
Interested in trying some Mobility movements or exercises on your own first? Check out these exercises found on Barbend:
- Kettlebell Arm Bar
- Lateral Lunge
- Half-Kneeling Arm Rotation
- Walking Spiderman With Hip Lift and Overhead Reach
- Three-Way Ankle Mobilization
- Seated 90/90 Hip IR/ER with Reach
- Back-to-the-Wall Shoulder Flexion
- Prying Squat
- Mini Band Overhead Reach
- Passive Leg Lowering
- Mini Band Prone Floor Slide
- Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Tall-Kneeling Shoulder Controlled Articular Rotation
- Assisted Quadruped Thoracic Rotation
- Rocking Ankle Mobilization
Why Mobility is Necessary for Recovery
As mentioned above, training daily is hard on the body — there is no way around it. And while recovery methods like saunas, nutrition, and sleep are all critical to helping the body rest and repair, adding a Recovery class or mobility exercise or work as well can give you a one-up on your recovery.
Outside of a Recovery class itself, even spending just 10-20 minutes daily on stretching and foam rolling can help increase the responsiveness of muscles and reduce the amount of soreness you experience. This light activity and stretching will warm up the soft tissues of the body in preparation for more intense activity.
As for improving recovery, foam rolling, stretching, and strengthening — the three aspects of mobility — work together to speed up muscle recovery. Releasing trigger points helps to reestablish proper movement patterns, gain back pain-free movement, and essentially enhance athletic performance. Oh, and as a reminder (yes, again), stretching alone is not always enough – which is why having a coach guide you through the exercises above or a Recovery class is key.