The importance of mobility and flexibility

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Developing muscle, strength, endurance and losing weight are all common terms we associate with the gym and fitness. However, there is one aspect missing and it may well be the key to enhancing all other aspects of your fitness. It’s called mobility! Mobility and flexibility training are too often dropped down the priority list for athletes and are mostly non-existent in the general publics’ training programmes - but these things are crucial! Besides the fact that we know mobility can help with injuries, it also dictates how well and how effectively we can move our bodies!

What are mobility and flexibility?

Firstly, let’s identify the difference between the two. Mobility is the ability to control a joint through a range of motion without restriction. Mobility is often related to posture, so poor posture will generally mean poor mobility. Flexibility on the other hand is the range of motion of the muscles, which can allow more/less movement around the joints. Both are equally important, regardless of your goals - whether they are to lose weight, build muscle or increase your fitness. 

Why do we need to be more mobile and flexible?

Having greater mobility will improve your posture and allow you to complete exercises in the gym through a wider range of motion - that means better squats and lunges for example. It will also reduce the risk of injury and activate more muscle fibres to give you increased power and efficiency. Mobility is key for any compound lift. So if you want to squat, but cant get low enough, it may not the fact that you are not strong; it could be that you are not mobile.  

It is also important to include flexibility training as part of your regular fitness routine. Increased flexibility can enhance your performance in aerobic training and muscular conditioning, as well as in sport. The scientific evidence is that the risk of injury decreases when people include flexibility training in their training programmes.

How can you become more mobile and flexible?

There are many types of stretching, including the use of rollers, bands and other aids. It is important to warm up before stretching and not use stretching as your warm up. To increase your mobility, you should have a talk with your trainer - however in the meantime you can try some of the below techniques. Aim for three days a week that you incorporate stretching or mobility work into your routine. 

Dynamic stretching:

Before your training session is the time to do your dynamic stretching. This method of flexibility training uses increasingly dynamic movements through the full range of motion of a joint. Examples of dynamic stretches are: leg swings, scorpions or walking calf-raises. You should complete 10-20 reps per stretch on each side. 

Static stretching:

This method of flexibility training involves taking a specific joint or set of joints through a range of motion to a comfortable end point (at least 20 seconds), resting for approximately 20 seconds, and then repeating the stretch two to three times.

The goal of static stretching is to overcome the stretch reflex (the automatic tightening of a muscle when stretched, which relaxes after approximately 20 seconds) to coax a joint into a wider range of motion. This is done by holding the stretch gently and not over-stretching the muscle.

Self-myofascial release:

This method can be performed with a foam roller, spike ball or your own hands. By applying pressure to specific points on your body you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles and assist in returning them to normal function. There is more information on foam rolling here.

If you need some more ideas on how to become more mobile and flexible, chat to our team. We can create programmes to increase your range of motion and improve your results in the gym and on the sports-field.

- Nik #noexcuses