Mobility matters. Mobility drills are not to be confused with flexibility, where stretching just focuses on the muscle itself. Mobility drills are used to better performance during any type of training. What goes on beyond the muscle itself? With mobility, you’re now talking about the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and fascia. Not to mention better range of motion. In this article I’ll explain how to increase your mobility.
✓ Being mindful during your exercises
Mind muscle connection is one thing, but are you paying attention to your form? If your form is off during your exercises, then your mobility throughout may be at risk, too. Instead of just throwing weight around, really let go of your ego and focus on form! It’s important! Using squats as an example; focusing on the positioning of your feet. Your feet should be pointed ever so slightly outward instead of completely straight ahead. Whereas your knees should come out during the eccentric movement, rather than having the weight load too heavy which will force your knees to cave in. Pointing your feet outward will help open up your hips as you come down into the squat position, which will allow for a better range of motion.
✓ Foam rolling
Foam rolling (self-myofascial release) is a great way to increase mobility. You can use foam rolling exercises to increase performance, prevent injuries, and relieve muscle strains and/or soreness (relieves delayed on-muscle soreness). The greater your range of motion is during exercise means the more work that your muscles have to do. This results in better and increased strength and size (hypertrophy). Foam rolling also improves blood flow throughout your muscles and removes metabolic waste from muscle tissue and improves the delivery of nutrients to your muscles.
✓ Warm ups
As you warm up prior to exercise, you’re increasing your body temperature along with your muscles. If you begin to workout with “cold muscles” then you are increasing the risk of pulling and/or straining a muscle. It’s important to warm up to prevent any injuries. There are several ways to warm up. You can walk up and down a flight of stairs, march in place, or even walk at a faster pace on the treadmill for something simple and easy.
During your warm ups, your heart rate and circulation will begin to increase, which will lead to increased blood flow to the working muscles. This provides more oxygen to the working muscles as well. When your body is warmed up, your ligaments and tendons also benefit by becoming more flexible which reduces the risk of straining and tearing. Better flexibility and mobility means better performance. Not to mention, your mind also becomes more focused on your workout in general during the warm up, to prepare for the duration and intensity, which also increases performance itself.
Although it’s been previously mentioned that stretching focuses on flexibility rather than mobility, stretching still plays a big role here. After warming up, or after exercise is the best time(s) to stretch your muscles. The reason behind this is that if you were to stretch out your muscles before a proper warm up, you could risk the chance of pulling or cramping. It’s often forgotten that muscles are elastic. Therefore, they are meant and need to be just as flexible as they are strong. If one doesn’t make stretching as much as a priority as they do for their training, then their performance could be at risk too. Muscles have the capability of shortening just as they do lengthening. Dynamic stretching and static stretching are two of the best types of stretching that will further better performance goals.
Take Home Message
It’s great to focus on both flexibility and mobility. If you spend a lot of time sitting down in an office chair, or on your living room couch in front of the television, chances are your mobility has reduced. Mobility is purely about how a joint moves. Flexibility, on the other hand, focuses on the length of the muscle. If the muscles around the joint are too tight, or not stretched enough, it becomes difficult to move the joint in the full range of motion. For better overall performance, you need full range of motion!