One of the most overlooked areas of fitness is mobility. By definition, mobility means the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Mobility work is more than just stretching. Think of it as stretching with a purpose. We hold positions, but we also use movement to help us open up the body where there might be tight muscles, areas of restriction, lack of full range of motion. Over time if we work at it, the body will open up and move better.
One of the most common things I see in personal training is the lack of mobility people have in certain areas of their bodies (most commonly their shoulders and hips). This lack of mobility hinders the ability to move properly, makes movements more challenging and prevents us from progressing.
Why Improving Mobility is Beneficial
Improving mobility will not only allow you to move better but enables your body to move through full range of motion. This will, in turn, increase power output and allows the body to move more efficiently and effectively. Improved mobility can help resolve pain, improve performance, speed up recovery, and prevent injury. Improving mobility can help you feel better, both during and after your workouts.
Mobility work is important and should be incorporated into your daily and weekly routines. We push ourselves in the gym, but often overlook doing things to help us properly recover and prepare for future workouts. We overlook this important aspect, and it could be a major reason we are not able to advance past a certain point.
Ways to improve and incorporate mobility
- Spend 5-15 minutes daily on mobility work
- Hold positions for 1-5 minutes, this can be broken up into smaller sets that allow us to accumulate more time and allow the body to open up and adapt
- Test and retest positions to see if improvement is being made
- Put your body into positions that mimic the movement patterns we want to improve
- Using props or tools that allow us to get into these position can be helpful (E.g- Using a pole to help us remain more upright in the bottom of a squat position)
- Remember to never force positions and avoid anything that causes pain
- Be consistent and be patient. Like anything, improving mobility takes time. Allow your body to adjust and it will pay big dividends in your performance and how you feel in and outside of the gym!
My Secret to Mobilizing
One way I have been successful with incorporating mobility work into my busy schedule is spending 15 minutes every night before I go to sleep while watching TV. It has allowed me to be more consistent since I often times do not have enough time to do it after my workouts.
Examples of Mobility Exercises
- Squat Hold using elbows to push knees out and open up hips (2-4 sets holding for 1 minute in bottom position) (Works: Hips/Hamstrings/Quads/Ankles)
- Deep Lunge (Keep Chest High Drive hip towards floor and squeeze glutes) Hold for 1-2 minutes per side (Works:Hips/Hamstrings/Quads)
- Lizard Pose (In deep lunge position bring chest towards ground and try to put forearms on ground for support) Hold for 1-2 minutes per side (Works: Hips/Hamstrings/Back) **Personal Favorite!!
- Thoracic Rotations (Keeping feet and hips pointed forward, cross arms across chest and slowly rotate torso pause and repeat opposite direction) 2-3 Sets 5 rotations each direction (Works: Thoracic region)
- Archer Pose (Standing Upright, Bring right arm above head and reach down back bring left arm down side and then up back trying to grab hands. You can use a band or towel to assist you with this one) Do both sides for 1 minute each. (Works:Shoulders/Back)