‘As we get older, you’ll often hear friends, family and colleagues complain about aches and pains. ‘My back this and my knee that..’ But, what if there was a way to reduce the chances of these body mobility woes occurring?
Don’t get ahead of yourself. We’re not offering a miracle ‘forever young elixir’, but there are preventative measures available and all you need is you and your body.
Mobility is defined as; the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
As athletes, we underestimate the importance of our mobility until an injury occurs and suddenly we’re restricted or permanently affected.
If you’re always skipping ‘mobility class’ or think foam rolling is ‘boring’ – consider these 3 points, then think again:
Mobility is better on your joints
When you incorporate mobility exercises before your workout, you’re essentially protecting your joints from damage. As we all know, joints are where two bones meet in your body such as knees, elbows, hips etc.
These are covered by connective tissues like tendons, muscles, and ligaments, which control the mobility of the joint. So, if you go straight into a workout, without warming up target areas, you can overestimate your range of motion during a movement, potentially causing damage.
When you’ve warmed up, the blood is flowing freely around your joints, loosening any built-up tension and circulating the synovial fluid. This fluid reduces the friction between the cartilage and where the bones meet, ensuring smoother, painless movement.
Stretching vs. Mobility, is there a difference?
Stretching is terrific. If done correctly, it elongates your muscles making you more flexible and lengthening tighter areas. However, you should not substitute it for mobility exercises as it’s not the same.
You know that pain in your muscles you feel after training? This is sometimes caused your fascia getting stuck together. When fascia doesn’t have a regular flow of fluid, it sticks together, which is often that pain you feel after training hard. To relieve it, you need to ‘break’ the fascia apart, which is not possible with just stretching.
By using mobility tools such as foam rollers, you can get right into that soft tissue, releasing them from their fascia prison. It hurts, but it works. Even though stretching and mobility are not the same, it’s important to incorporate both into your workouts.
It improves your Range of Motion [ROM]
Do you struggle to get your elbows high enough when doing a front squat? Is it difficult to squat below your hip crease? If so, you’re just like the rest of us when we started training.
In terms of working out, a restricted or limited range of motion in joints can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
- Old injuries
- Short or tight muscles
- Inflammation of soft tissue
In general, it’s very common for new athletes to have limited movements because of the sedentary lives we lead ie: sitting in front of computers, driving instead of walking etc. Without training, we don’t make use of our full range of motion purely because it’s not necessary.
However, as we get older, this can be debilitating on our day-to-day movements. As we’ve restricted ourselves so much for so long, our bodies almost ‘forget’ how to move properly and our joints get weaker from lack of synovial fluid. This makes our bodies more susceptible to injuries.
So, when we develop our ROM, it allows us two things:
- The full use of our muscles, as intended.
- Moving safely which distributes weight evenly and prevents injury.
By working on our mobility, we keep our bodies functioning as they structurally should. This increases our chances exponentially of pain-free movements as we age, gracefully and strong.