Why you need to introduce mobility training into a workout
One of the biggest mistakes I see men and women make in the gym is getting too caught up in the aesthetic focus of fitness. Of course, it’s great to look good, but not when it comes at the expense of more important physical attributes like health and mobility.
During your twenties, you can get away with a gung-ho attitude to personal training: your body recovers rapidly, and it’s still benefiting from the natural flexibility you had during childhood. As the years pass, however, even basic movements like squats and lunges can become laboured and difficult.
Men often suffer from ‘it won’t happen to me’ syndrome – but it will. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way. Mobility and flexibility used to be a blind spot for me but then I noticed my body suffering and tweaked my own workouts to address the problem.
What is mobility?
Mobility refers to our ability to move freely and easily without stress on the body. Mobility within a joint is the degree to which the area where two bones meet (known as an articulation), is allowed to move before restricted by the surrounding tissue such as tendons, muscle, and ligaments.
Do you get tightness or soreness in your muscles for no reason at all?
This could be from lack of mobility. Whether you lift weights, run, bike, or even sit at a desk all day at work, mobility should be a part of your daily routine. For example, when performing a squat or a lunge or simply picking something off of the floor, you need mobility in your ankles. If you lack that mobility, your knees and hips have to compensate for that and in time can cause further injury. The vast majority of people are affected by sitting most of their day. Anymore, we are sitting in front of our computers and phones for long periods of time. When we are in this position, our shoulders round forward, hip flexors become shortened and tightened, and the glutes and hamstrings become deactivated. Holding a static position for long periods of time cause the muscles to lose their function, this in time starts to cause aches and pains. Performing simple mobility exercises every day for 10 minutes can help minimize those aches and pains and help prevent injuries.
Is mobility the same as flexibility?
Our flexibility is dependent on the range of motion of our muscles. The two are not the same, but are not mutually exclusive. Good mobility can assist your flexibility and vice versa.
Is mobility more important as we get older?
It’s important to be mobile at any age. The ageing process can take its toll on the body, so it is important that we stay mobile and supple to combat this.
What are the main benefits of mobility training?
Mobility training can improve the range of motion of our joints and muscles. It can assist in improving our posture. Mobility training can alleviate ‘everyday’ aches and pains as well as improve our body awareness.
Is it ever too late to start mobility training? How soon could you begin to see results?
It is never too late to start mobility training. Your mobility is always something you can improve. In terms of results, this will initially be something you feel rather than see. You might feel a little less stiff after one or two sessions – but the key is to be consistent with your mobility training. Over time you should see an increase in your range of motion and perhaps improvement in your performance in other activities.
Can mobility training be incorporated alongside other forms of training or is it a discipline unto itself?
Mobility training can be used as part of your warm-up for your workout, or you can use it within your training in the form of active rest. The exercises can also be used to recover from other forms of training. Some ways to add mobility to your daily routine could be foam rolling, mobility drills, and some stretching. Foam rolling is a great way to relieve some tightness and tension in the muscles before and after your workouts and/or when you wake up in the morning and come home from work. It is cheap and easy to do yourself to prevent stiffness throughout the body. Mobility Drills are exercises that promote mobility by taking the muscles, tendons, and joints through the full range of motion with the intent to increase efficiency and quality of motion. Stretching can also be implemented to increase flexibility which is a key factor in mobility.
What kind of ailments could be prevented or reversed with proper mobility work?
Conditions such as lower back or knee pain, plus some forms of arthritis, can benefit from mobility exercises. However, it’s important to remember that they should always be performed within a pain free range.
I build mobility exercises and stretches into all my Semi-Private training sessions at Body Complete to ensure that muscular tension or tightness is minimised and your flexibility is improved. I also dedicate a whole set of sessions within the 9 week programme to Mobility to give my clients’ bodies a rest from more the other high intensity, cardio-vascular and strength based training classes which can put more strain on the muscles.