If you follow a lot of gym, fitness, or workout influencers, you have probably come across mobility exercises. More and more people realize that strength training and cardio is not everything, which is a great thing. Various mobility exercises work to strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall range of motion within the body, most notably within joints.
Mobility is a necessity for the body’s daily movements. If you want to live pain-free and reduce your risk of injury, then you have to enhance your mobility. With better mobility, you can squat deeper, run faster, train harder, pick up children with ease, and do so many other daily movements. Additional benefits of mobility include:
- Increased strength via muscle activation
- Better posture
- Reduced physical pain and tightness
- Decreased risk of physical injury via strengthening the joints and enhancing body awareness
- Better understanding of your body
- Less tension built-up within the body
Why Is Mobility Important?
Think of mobility like the foundation for physical health and the key to unlocking easier movements. If your mobility is limited, then your joint cannot move through its full range of motion during activation. Not only can that lead to uneven distribution of pressure, but also wear and tear on other areas compensating to carry out the movement. Additionally, poor mobility can lead to general joint pain and knots in the muscles that surround the joints.
You probably know that most people are very sedentary. Sitting behind a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, can shorten and tighten connective tissues, or fascia. Think of fascia like plastic wrap for the internal body. It is thin, reactive, and mostly made up of collagen, encasing muscles and organs. Insufficient fascia mobility can trigger pain, leave a person feeling stiff, or even interfere with proper organ function.
Mobility vs. Flexibility
It is not uncommon for people (and professionals) to regularly interchange mobility and flexibility. They are not synonymous, so that can be a little misleading. Flexibility is the ability to lengthen muscles, for example, melting into a stretch with ease. Mobility is the ability of a joint to actively move through its full range of motion. You need some flexibility in order to have great mobility, but mobility also requires strength and balance. Passive stretching focuses on flexibility, whereas dynamic stretching helps to improve mobility.
Without strength, flexibility may do more harm than good. It is not the gold standard, despite what popular yoga influencers say on the Gram. Over-stretching without incorporating strength training can actually stretch ligaments and joints without preparing tissue fibers. Fascia and connective tissues may not recoil and regenerate properly if they are constantly in stretch. If you constantly pull a rubber band, it becomes loose and can snap. You don’t want that!
Mobility Is Necessary For Injury Prevention
Without full mobility in certain joints, you may not activate the right muscles or muscle groups during a specific movement. That can overwork other muscles, increasing the risk of injury and pain. Although accidents happen, you can avoid serious injury when you learn to tap into bodily cues. Mobility training can reduce the risk of injuries by conditioning your joints. That helps you keep the body supple and makes it easier to understand the body’s movements.
How To Train For Better Mobility
The great thing about mobility training is that you don’t need a gym to engage in various movements. Remember that you need not overexert yourself because the whole point of mobility training is to reduce the risk of injury. There are many online resources offering full-body mobility plans and targeted mobility workouts. A lot of people hold tightness in the hips, which can increase low back pain. Start with hip-opening mobility movements, which you can learn more about by clicking here.
You have the ability to perform optimally, but you have to engage in the proper mobility training to do so. As you progress through your mobility workouts, you may notice that you feel stronger, experience less pain, and have greater range of motion. Mobility movements may unlock pain-free movement for you!