Mobility… What is it and Why is it Important?
Hello and welcome to this week’s blog about mobility. It is something I have been focusing my own exercise efforts on recently, after a strange year that has involved me sitting and not doing a lot physically, after recovering from a bone break, to then just a few scant months later, to be flung into a worldwide lockdown which restricted everyone’s movements and activities.
The dictionary has it spot on…
- the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.
“this exercise helps retain mobility in the damaged joints”
ability to move · movability · moveableness · motility · vigour · strength · potency · transportability · portability · manoeuvrability
… and that is the crux of it. The ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Note that one of its synonyms is ‘strength’? Watch out for that one, I will be mentioning it again in a bit.
Have you ever woken up and your first movements of the day are jerky and creaky?
Do you sit down for a little while and when you get up, you find need to exclaim, ‘oooh achey’, or some other description to explain why your body is juddering its way along?
Yep. Most people do. However, are you feeling this creakiness and experiencing aches or other discomfort with it? Do you find yourself actively avoiding doing something because it hurts or is uncomfortable? Most people do experience this from time to time, but it shouldn’t be the status quo of your daily life.
There is always a way out of feeling like this. The answer is mobility work.
What is Mobility Work?
When I say mobility work, I am referring to exercise which actively tests and strengthens your ability to move well. This is not just about lifting weights, which can decrease mobility if it is the only thing you do when you do exercise.
Mobility work is making your body move in a challenging way, in all the ways it can move. I am not asking you to go out and emulate a gymnasts or pro-athletes workout, but chances are, if you are creaky in a joint then you could well be neglecting its movement potential when you do move.
Confused? Think about the exercise you currently do, now think about what part of your body feels ‘sticky’ or restrictive, or movements you simply do not make when exercising, and there will be something. You might not realise it at first, but it will be there if you do not regularly participate in mobility work.
If you continue to ignore these restrictions, they can build up to hurt over time, or be the source of an injury.
And an injury could take you out of your favourite activity for far longer than you want.
The Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility… and Why it Matters
Another dictionary reference…
- the quality of bending easily without breaking.
“players gained improved flexibility in their ankles”
pliability · suppleness · pliancy · malleability · mouldability · stretchability · workability · limberness · ductility · plasticity · elasticity · stretch · stretchiness · whippiness ·
A lot of people confuse flexibility for mobility, when in fact they are two different things. Mobility is moving easily, while flexibility is bending easily. There is little point in being flexible if your ability to move into those flexible positions is compromised because of other restrictions, which is why both matter and should work together to create a stronger you.
How to Improve Mobility and Why
Here is the question that I get asked a lot. And the answer to improving mobility is to get stronger, to strengthen. I said I would come back to it… it is nearly always the answer to most physical and mental restrictions, however as I said earlier, just lifting weights might not be the answer. It is about strengthening your body and joints overall and improving your body’s ability to move in and out of different positions. Yoga and Pilates are both great activities to improve both your strength and mobility, it is important to note though, that doing just these alongside your other exercise will probably not improve your mobility. You need to understand your weaknesses to improve them, and during a Pilates or Yoga practise, it is easy to continue with the flow to get it done.
To improve you must break down to the individual movements you find difficult, and practise those as part of your other exercise routines, until you can handle the move with ease. For example, if you find downward dog difficult, practise first the shoulder blades squeezing together with soft knees and high heels so that your legs are not stressed. Then relax your shoulders and practise straightening your legs and moving your heels closer to the floor. Then you would practise raising your hips high, before finally combining it.
The Why to improving is simple: to avoid injury and move with freedom… to move without fear.
I can introduce you to other mobility movements at the end of your massage appointment if you need them, or if you choose to book in for a PT session, I can take you through an entire session assessing and improving your mobility. PT sessions are home visit and mornings only, please do discuss with me directly if you would like to book in.
Helpful Resources to Check Out
I can personally vouch for Ryan Hurst of GMB Fitness as being outstanding in his approach to breaking down and delivering mobility work through his online programmes.
I also have previously enjoyed Kaisa Keranen’s work, and that of Cory Lefkowith at Redefining Strength, who also have online programmes available.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog today, please Get In Touch for more information. I hope to be helping you move better soon.