An Introduction To Mobility
I’m sure most of us have heard of mobility and often thought it was another word for flexibility, but that isn’t the case. Mobility simply means that you are able to move all parts of your body freely and evenly. Everyone’s body has limits to how much mobility is available in the joints and how flexible the muscles are. Flexibility allows you to maximize the range of motion in your joints. Whether or not you can touch your toes or do a backbend has nothing to do with the mobility of your body. While some people are hyper-flexible, which has its disadvantages too, you want to focus on how to improve your body so you can perform the way you want to. Your biomechanics may mean that you will never touch your toes, but you can still develop mobility in your body through movement that will prevent injury, help you recover faster and become a stronger athlete.
Mobility and Performance
We spend countless hours training power and endurance, and mobility plays a key part in improving performance. When there are restrictions, your body’s ability to maintain proper body position and technique you lose power. Improper position affects performance. Having tight muscles in one part of your body creates a weakness that limits your overall power. For instance, tight shoulders not only make proper body position hard they also put a strain on the intercostal muscles of the ribs, making breathing more labor intensive for your body. Tight hamstrings not only limit your ability to make movements like squats, they also put a strain on the knees and low back, which means that you can’t lift as much weight because your body is using strength and energy into stabilizing your knees and low back. Tight muscles compromise your body position and take valuable energy away from your ability to perform. If you haven’t hit any new PR’s in a while but are training hard, chances are good tight muscles are limiting your progress.
Mobility, Injury & Recovery
We typically don’t worry about injuries until it’s too late and then we suffer the consequences of trauma and healing. Lack of mobility in your muscles restricts the movement of your joints. When your joints and muscles can’t work optimally, you put yourself at great risk for tears and sprains. Tight muscles affect your mental attitude and determination as well. Starting a workout when you are stiff and aching generally sets you up to under achieve as your body is already at a disadvantage. Mobility training makes recovering from challenging workouts easier and faster. After a hard workout, you may experience DOMS (Delayed onset Muscle Soreness) this happens when your muscles become sore a day or 2 after working out. By adding mobility training to your workout you can reduce soreness and tightness in these muscles by increasing blood flow without overloading your muscles with a big workout.
Do I have to do Yoga to Improve Mobility?
As soon as someone says mobility, you might wonder if you should try yoga to improve mobility. The short answer is no, you don’t have to do yoga to improve mobility. Starting a whole new program is not necessary, you can begin to include mobility exercises into your current routine. There is however, a lot to learn from yoga about improving mobility. Yoga postures improve mobility in the whole body and balance right & left and front & back. Just as overly tight muscles place a strain on other parts of the body, being overly flexible in one muscle group will also create strain in other areas. Yoga postures are held with muscular engagement, the postures are not passive stretches and many of the postures target several areas of the body. The foot positions in postures like Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 improve mobility in the ankles, calves, hamstrings and hips, the upper body in these positions requires that the core is engaged and the arm positions release muscular tightness in the chest and shoulders.
How to Improve Your Mobility
Just as you probably have a schedule and regimen for your workouts you can also program your mobility training. You’ll want to train mobility regularly and frequently. Ideally, you’ll be able to do some mobility work every day, even if it’s just for 10-15 minutes. Mobility training will make you feel better when you work out or even after working all day. You will want to make sure you include mobility exercises for all parts of your body. Training properly for mobility will ensure that you have maximal competency in all body movements, which means that you need to perform mobility exercise for your whole body.