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What actually IS mobility?
Mobility is pretty much just your ability to move. It's the capacity you have to actively control your joints through range of motion.
Where people often get confused is by thinking that flexibility & mobility are one and the same. In actuality, they're two different skillsets altogether.
Flexibility, or in other words, passive range of motion, is the range of motion (ROM) that your muscles & joints are able to move through with external force. For instance, if you were to lay on your back with one leg up in the air & have a friend push your leg as far as it can go, that would be a test of your hamstring flexibility.
Meanwhile, mobility, or in other words, active range of motion, is the ROM that your muscles & joints are able to create through internally generated force (by contracting your muscles). It's the capacity you hold to move your joints & muscles through a ROM without any external assistance (e.g. driving your knee as far up towards your chest would be a measure of your 'hip flexion' active ROM).
Why does mobility matter?
Having good mobility at certain joints & within your muscles holds importance for several reasons.
Here's 4 of the most significant:
1) Keeps You Pain Free
If you have either a lack of passive ROM, or a sizable gap between your passive & active ROM, there comes an increased risk of injury (either at that joint or at another part of the body).
When you lack passive ROM you'll feel stiff & immobile, meaning you'll either do fewer activities, or push through by compensating at another area/joint. This compensation, over time, will create stress, damage, & wear and tear on the called upon areas/joints, leading to pain & injury.
If you have a sizable gap between your passive & active ROM, it means that although you have the adequate passive ROM, your nervous system lacks control over a portion of that range. If you then load tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints) in ROM's that they aren't capable of controlling force in, you're simply asking for trouble.
With solid mobility compensation is minimised & the gap between your passive & active ROM is reduced - cutting down your injury risk, meaning you can go through daily life untroubled & commit to the activities you love!
2) Helps You Build Strength
If you're not able to get your body into a position to efficiently move, you're limiting your ability to produce force & lift weight.
With greater mobility, you're able to access positions that allow you to generate more force & therefore lift heavier weight. The natural by-product of this is that you'll develop greater strength & build more muscle!
3) Improves Your Quality of Movement
With greater mobility comes improved movement quality.
By this, I'm not just talking about your ability to move athletically (squat, lunge, run, jump, hop).
I'm also talking about your ability to perform very basic movements in your daily life, things like:
- Getting up to & down from the floor
- Bending down to pick up a heavy object
- Reaching overhead to grab something from the top shelf
The tasks that, in an ideal world, you shouldn't have to think twice about performing.
But, if your mobility is significantly restricted, these kind of activities can become far more challenging & risky then they ought to be.
By taking care of your mobility you're ensuring that you're able to perform at your best as an athlete, as well as being able to perform all of the movements that are required of you in your daily life - even as you age!
4) It Makes You Feel Good
The main reason why I first started integrating mobility into my lifestyle was because my body just didn't feel good.
I was lifting heavy in the gym, playing football 2-3 times per week, & sitting at a desk for 8 hours each day. My body was getting beat up from high intensity physical activity, & then restricted from sitting in a hunched over, hip flexed position.
I felt tight & restricted.
But since making mobility a daily part of my lifestyle, how my body feels & functions has improved exponentially.
No longer do I wake up every morning feeling stiff & plagued by aches and pains.My body feels more free, strong, & capable than it has at any stage of my life!
What's more, the act of moving your body has real psychological benefits! Whenever I finish my 5-10 minutes of morning mobility, I feel more energised, motivated, & positive about my day moving forward.
How do I improve my mobility?
To improve your mobility it's essential to regularly challenge your joints & tissues, as well as teach your nervous system how to contract muscles at both their mid and end-range lengths (when the muscles are at resting length, as well as at their shortened & lengthened ranges).
To do so, it's important to:
- Move daily to ensure you maintain your current ROM
- Use neural control work to teach your nervous system how to control the new ROM's you'd like to have
- Strengthen muscles to handle being taken to their end ranges
My 90-day online program - Aligned Strength - can help you with that.
Aligned Strength will help you build strength & unlock greater mobility within your body - so that you can live a life of high quality movement & minimal pain.
If you're interested in learning more, just hit the button below.
Christian Lawal Personal Training.
Personal training in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Sevenoaks.