Mobility is vital part of every workout regiment that will upgrade your body and power up the effect of each session.
What is mobility?
Mobility is often confused with flexibility and while they are certainly connected, they are not synonymous. Here is a quick definition of the two:
Flexibility: The ability to passively lengthen a muscle or group of muscles through a range of motion.
Mobility: The ability to move a joint freely throughout it’s full range of motion, this encompasses the length of the muscle (flexibility), the muscle tension, the joint capsule and ligaments as well as the nervous system (motor control).
Greater gains from your workout
Increased mobility will mean that your muscles and joints will be better balanced and aligned, as will your posture, your range of motion will (obviously) be hugely increased. You will therefore be able to complete exercises to their maximum pushing further and harder, whilst maintaining alignment. The central nervous system (CNS) is extremely receptive to mobility training as it keeps the nervous system active, nerves will fire up more muscle fibres and more rapidly with continued mobility drills. Mobility training undoubtedly helps build speed, power and endurance. Meaning greater gains!
As previously mentioned mobility and flexibility are not one and the same, yet go and hand in hand with one another. So how does flexibility come into play? You may have length in your muscles for example flexible hamstrings but a lack of mobilisation in the joints where the muscles cross. This lack of mobility and stablisation within the joints leads to a mildly sedentary nervous system; therefore, the CNS will create a sense of stiffness as it feels threatened by a large range of motion that could cause damage such as disclocation. The reason you are not quite getting into the splits with lots of static stretching maybe due to a lack of hip mobility as opposed to flexibility. Including dynamic stretches and mobility drills to get into the splits as opposed to just static stretching will fire up the CNS and reduce the tension allowing the range of motion into the split. More mobility = greater flexibility
This reason is probably the most important, with full joint mobility and a completely active CNS, chances of injury are supremely minimised. Injuries occur when a person creates a movement out of normal alignment or muscle balance, often due to a lack of mobility. Increased mobility means your body will be protected from the chance of injury by engaging the joints in your body properly and efficiently (especially the spine). There will be greater stability within and surrounding the joint, meaning that when a joint is in correct alignment, the bones will bear the majority of the stress rather than the connective tissue, increasing mobility will take stress off tendons and ligaments, thus preventing injury.
Decreased/eliminated aches and pains
Shoulder, back, hip and knee pain as well as arthiritis can be greatly reduced or eliminated in some cases with consistent mobility training. Back pain and shoulder tension is extraordinarily common; this is largely due to poor posture created by lifestyle. Sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, changes your posture – spines are supposed to be a lengthened ‘S’ shape for maximum shock absorbency and designed to be moving in all the planes of movement. Taking away the movement (flexing forward, extending back, rotating and laterally flexing) means that muscles are becoming weak and vertabrae are becoming compressed, the CNS is underactive creating uncomfortable muscle tension a long with stiffness. Increasing the mobility of joints will help you to bring muscular balances back in check and promote a better, more efficient posture. Mobilising the back, hips, knees and ankles will promote the secretion of lubricating fluid to keep the joints pain-free and flowing in day-to-day movement patterns.
Mobility training is anti-ageing
As we age, we lose mobility and our neuromuscular pathways begin to weaken. Our bodies become all round less efficient, malcoordinated and stiff. Mobility drills will keep your CNS working at it’s optimum, ensuring muscle fibres are fired up appropriately, motor skills continue to work efficiently and joints are kept lubricated and aligned. Functional everyday movements will be as easy, such as tying a shoe lace, getting out of bed, picking up a shopping bag and opening the door. Prevention is always better than cure!
Who is mobility training good for?
Everyone! From athletes to grandparents, it will not only improve everyday life, it will also hugely improve your workout regime and flexibility.
How can mobility drills be included in your day-to-day life?
Mobility drills can be done as part of a warm-up and are prefect to do before any workout. They are dynamic, functional and mostly compound, meaning they work several muscles and joints simultaneously. They will take 5-10 minutes and can be done anytime (even in front of the TV). Dynamic Reformer Pilates pays close attention to mobility, to further improve your Pilates practice do a 5-10 minute mobility drill 3-4 times per week.