Mobility is eventually going to be something anyone will seek due to improper technique, injuries or discomfort. Although doing improving mobility will help with those issues, the best way to go about it is to have a prehab plan that includes mobility for safety, comfort and longevity in training. Mobility exercises are going to be different than regular exercises since they will target a joint or tendon’s range of motion rather than just trying to stretch and flex a muscle. They help a lot in improving the range of motion in exercises and they should be included all the time including off days and training days.
What are mobility exercises:
Mobility exercises are movements that seek to reinforce better flexibility of a limb of a body part. They are exercises that have a pattern which works on how far a muscle can stretch and how far can your body go.
These exercises are very underrated because the effects can’t be seen. Most people train their chest, legs, arms shoulders and other visible muscles, but when it comes to exercises that can give you better mobility, they are seen as boring, not exciting and unproductive.
An example of these exercises is anything that moves a joint through its full range of motion, it can be as drastic as a full shoulder flexion through the shoulder blade or even forward knee extension. You can do this by grabbing the ends of a light resistance band on your hands and pulling them back while sliding the band across your face and all the way around your lower back.
This is going to cause the shoulder scapula bone to rotate at its full extension which means it is also going to work the stabilizers. The idea is to make sure that the joint is effectively moving in the right direction.
Mobility exercises need to be done very slowly and carefully. They reinforce good body mechanics if done right, which means there is a right and wrong way to do it.
The benefits of mobility exercises:
Your muscles after a workout will heal on their own, but the tendons, ligaments, and joints need longer to recover. This is why the old test of seeing if your muscles are not sore to workout does not work all the time. Mobility exercises are going to help you recover faster since they allow your tendons to get in better alignment and they stretch the limb. Most of acute knee pain is just misplacement on the joint, and if these misplacement can be corrected on the off days, you can heal your tendons and muscles faster.
Better range of motion: One of the biggest issues strength athletes have in general is not being able to move through the full extension. An easy example of that is lack of mobility in the squat, or rather lack of stability. Both mobility and stability work hand in hand in many cases. Many people during the squat cannot reach proper depth or they cannot reach depth while staying tight throughout the whole movement. Mobility exercises are going to help you with being able to reach more with your shoulder, knee, ankle and hips.
Most injuries in the gym happen for two reasons, the first reason that has nothing to do with mobility is over use and inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by excessive use of joint which is where the term runner’s knee comes from. The other reason is improper use of a movement pattern. Most people think that if they got injured in their elbow or knee, then it must be an elbow issue. This is not true since elbows and knees are only hinge joints which means they cannot do anything that bend in one way. The shoulder on the other hand can move in many directions, and it is most times an underlying issue of the hips, shoulders or lower back. This can be avoided with mobility exercises since you are able to give your joints more room to work on. A tight shoulder or hip will likely be injured one or another because it has a lack of mobility and movement.
Mobility can actually get you a bit stronger. This concept goes beyond better range of motion and that is better muscle activation. Mobility can help with mind to muscle activation of some major muscles like the hips and quads.
When to include mobility exercises:
You can include mobility whenever you have the time to do so, before working out will help feel lose and relaxed during the workout, and doing your mobility work after is going to help you prevent inflammation, injuries and pain the next day.
Putting your mobility work on a separate day is a better idea. Most people tend to rush their warm ups and warm downs anyways, so by spending 15 minutes each day at home, you will be more focused and determined on mobility only.
How to include mobility exercises and drills:
Getting mobile is not just about moving the body in a certain direction, it can also tackle some knots and tension in the body which may release the tightness. Therefore, self-release of some of the tissue can be the answer for many people.
Mobility for the shoulder:
Take a tennis ball on the ground and lay on your back. Make sure your back is flat and the tennis ball is right in the muscular parts of your back. Run the ball around the upper back as well as the lat and tricep area. If any part of the movement hurts the muscle, then that is the part you should massage the most. Keep at this for 10 to 20 minutes. Hook a light resistance band to an object that is on eye level, hold the other end of the band with your arms with a horizontal angle and pull the band back to create a 90 degree angle, do this slowly and feel your shoulders working.
Mobility for the hip:
Foam roll the IT band, SI joint, quad, hamstring, glutes, inner thighs and upper calves. Do slow high knee kicks to the ceiling and hold your knee in position for 5 seconds in each leg for 5 rounds. Do hip thrusts with a band around your knee and extend up as far as possible.
Mobility is often an under-looked aspect of fitness and training. However, people always seek mobility first after injuries, discomfort or improper body mechanics. This does not have to be the case if you do your mobility work every day for 15 minutes to stretch the muscle, increase flexibility, increase range of motion and recover from hard workouts.
Disclaimer: The exercises and information provided by Fit Futures Learning Institute (T/A Fit Futures Academy) (www.fitfutures.co.nz) are for educational and entertainment purposes only, and are not to be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific treatment plan, product or course of action. Read the full content disclaimer.