Mobility and flexibility are quite often neglected and misunderstood by many athletes and gym enthusiasts. The focus, by most, is getting bigger and stronger, primarily for the aesthetic properties of fitness. Of course it’s great to be strong and look good but, if your an athlete that’s stiff and can’t move efficiently, you may be cutting yourself short in your athletic performance. Getting a proper mobility and flexibility program may be what you need to maximize athletic performance.
Flexibility and mobility are often misinterpreted as one and the same but they are quite different. Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. Mobility is defined as an expression of how well and efficiently we move. For example a person who is very flexible may not have the coordinated strength and stability to perform a movement that a person with good mobility will be able to perform without restriction. It’s best to think of flexibility and mobility as equal partners in creating a body capable of complex movements.
To train mobility and flexibility I like to think in terms of dynamic stretching, during warm-ups, such as the lizard stretch for mobility training. Static stretching, such as splits training, for flexibility. Again both are quite similar but lead to different outcomes in muscle tissue but you need a little of both in order to keep the body moving optimally, and pain free.
How much mobility practice you need is directly related to what your fitness goals are. For example a powerlifter, whose main focus is lifting as much as he can lift for one rep, will probably not need as much focus on mobility and flexibility as say a martial artist who depends more on how well they can move their body.
It’s also good to note that variety will play a big role in how you use mobility and flexibility training. If you don’t need to be very mobile then having a few mobility exercises and stretches in your pocket, that keep you pain and injury free, is fine but if you need a high degree of mobility in your life then you’ll need to practice a broader range of exercises to make sure your getting everything you need in your mobility and flexibility practice.
All in all if you’ve ever hit a plateau or found yourself with nagging painful joints then looking to acquire or improve on your mobility and flexibility program is, more often than not, where you will find your break through or relieve from pain.
If you need a hand figuring out how to include the mobility component into your fitness programming or to start training with us. Give us a call (403) 347-9669 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be more than happy to help.