One topic that is often overlooked in fitness but is incredibly important for overall health and performance is: MOBILITY. Whether you’re an elite level athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or just someone who wants to live a more active lifestyle, improving your mobility can have a significant impact on your physical well-being. Everyone knows to “stretch their body” but stretching really doesn’t do us any long term good if we have limited range of motion in our joints. We must use movement to keep our bodies healthy, maintaining independence and pain-free. It wasn’t long ago that the practice of Mobility really became a curiosity due to some health issues that arose in my family that you can read about in my bio. This focus and prioritization on movement sparked a purpose to help others move better.
What is Mobility?
Mobility refers to the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through a full, pain-free range of motion. In the context of fitness training, mobility is important because it helps to improve athletic performance, increase overall joint health, and most importantly, prevent injury.
When a joint has limited mobility, it can lead to compensatory movements in other areas of the body, which can increase the risk of injury. For example, if an individual has limited hip mobility, they may compensate by overextending their lower back, which can lead to back pain and injury. Not good!
Additionally, good mobility can help improve athletic performance by allowing for a greater range of motion, which can lead to more power, speed, and agility, as well as improved form and technique during physical activity. This is especially important for activities such as weightlifting, running, and jumping, where a full range of motion is essential for maximum performance.
Other Benefits of Good Mobility
- Improved posture: Improving mobility can help to correct imbalances and improve posture, reducing the risk of chronic pain and injury.
- Improved joint range of motion: By improving mobility, you can increase your ability to move through a full range of motion in your joints, reducing the risk of injury and discomfort.
- Improved balance and coordination: Improved mobility can help to improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
- Reduced stress: Improved mobility can also help to reduce stress, as it promotes relaxation and improved circulation.
- Improved quality of life: By improving mobility, you can improve your overall quality of life by reducing pain, improving athletic performance, and increasing overall physical function.
Preventing Injury – The Greatest Benefit!
In contrast, poor mobility can lead to a number of different injuries, including:
- Back pain: Limited mobility in the hips and thoracic spine can lead to increased strain on the lower back, resulting in pain and injury.
- Shoulder pain: Poor mobility in the shoulders, particularly in the rotator cuff, can lead to pain and injury in this area.
- Knee pain: Limited mobility in the hips and ankles can lead to increased strain on the knees, which can result in pain and injury.
- Plantar fasciitis: Poor mobility in the ankles and calves can lead to increased strain on the plantar fascia, causing pain in the heel and foot.
- Tennis elbow: Limited mobility in the elbows can lead to overuse injury in the tendons, resulting in pain on the outside of the elbow.
- Shin splints: Poor mobility in the ankles and feet can lead to increased strain on the shins, causing pain and injury in this area.
Signs To Look Out For
There are several signs or symptoms that indicate you may need to add mobility exercises to your training regimen. Are you experiencing any of the following?
- Joint pain: If you experience pain or discomfort in a joint during or after physical activity, it may be a sign that your mobility is limited and needs to be improved.
- Stiffness: If you feel stiff or have difficulty moving through a full range of motion in a joint, it may be a sign that you need to focus on improving your mobility.
- Injuries: If you experience frequent injuries or strains in a particular area, it may be a sign that your mobility is limited in that area and needs to be improved.
- Decreased performance: If you notice a decrease in your athletic performance, it may be a sign that your mobility is limited and needs to be improved.
- Soreness: If you experience soreness or discomfort in a particular area after physical activity, it may be a sign that your mobility is limited in that area and needs to be improved.
How to Incorporate Mobility into Your Fitness Program
Incorporating mobility exercises into my client’s personalized fitness programs is imperative for improving joint health, reducing pain, and increasing athletic performance, all of which aide in attaining the goals of my clients. Some mobility exercises I like to incorporate include:
- Dynamic stretching: This type of stretching involves moving through a range of motion while stretching, rather than holding a static stretch. Think arm swings, leg swings, and torso rotations.
- Foam rolling: Foam rolling involves using a foam roller to massage and stretch tight muscles, improving blood flow and helping to release tension.
- Yoga: Yoga is a great way to improve overall mobility and flexibility, as many yoga poses focus on stretching and strengthening various joints and muscles.
- Self-myofascial release (SMR): This type of exercise involves using tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, or massage sticks to apply pressure to tight muscles, helping to release tension and improve mobility.
- Active isolated stretching (AIS): This type of stretching involves holding a stretch for only a short period of time (typically 2-3 seconds), before releasing and repeating multiple times.
- Joint mobility exercises: These exercises are specific to individual joints, and are designed to improve range of motion and reduce pain in that joint. Examples include ankle rotations, hip circles, and shoulder rotations.
It’s important to remember that mobility is a dynamic and ongoing process. Even if you may have good mobility today, it can deteriorate over time if you do not maintain it. If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, have questions or want to test where your mobility stands today, call or text me at 619-869-1205 for a complimentary 1-hour assessment. Do not overlook the importance of mobility in your overall health and longevity.