Let’s assume that on average, we spend approximately 7 hours a day sitting down: 5 hours sitting in front of the office desk, an additional 1 hour commuting, and another 1 hour watching Netflix after work.
This adds up to over 100 days spent sitting down, in a given year.
This is a big problem.
Eventually, this hunched over position leads to tightness, inflexibility, and poor posture. You’ll start to feel hip pain, back pain, ankle pain, tight muscles, and more – a common problem that Darko Bejakovich, a Physiotherapist from Infinite Health commonly sees.
So whether you’re an exercise newbie, regular gym goer or CrossFit superstar, mobility training is an essential component of any quality fitness program. You need something to open up your body, pull you into proper alignment, and help you stand up straight!
What is Mobility exactly?
Darko explains that good mobility means that you can move your limbs with a full range of motion, without restriction. That is, with control and coordination, making it an active movement, rather than passive.
Why is it important?
Today, moving more to perform daily tasks is viewed as an inconvenience. Modern technology means we have access to devices serving the sole purpose of making our lives easier.
These conveniences however, come with a major downside.
Humans, as we are – are built to move.
A lack of movement means much of this soft tissue will have formed itself into knots, otherwise known as restricted muscle.
Thus, mobility techniques ultimately assist –
- Release tension in the body
- Correct muscle imbalances caused by muscle tightness
- Decrease pain in joints by releasing muscle knots in the muscles attached to joints
- Reduces the risk of injury
Mobility training can alleviate our everyday aches and pains, such as lower back pain or knee pain, improve our body awareness, and help to make our training more effective.
You don’t have to be in pain to work on your mobility; it’s important at any age to stay mobile and supple in our everyday activities.
What is the difference between flexibility and mobility?
The two terms seem to be used interchangeably, but actually have different meanings.
Darko describes flexibility as the ability to stretch your muscles (soft tissue).
Mobility on the other hand, is the term used to describe elements that contribute to movement, with full range of motion. This includes restricted muscle tissue, joints, the joint capsules, motor control, AND soft tissue.
Mobility differs from flexibility or stretching, as they are typically passive and depends on holding a certain position or relying on gravity to elongate muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Flexibility is very much a part of mobility. Both contributing to the component of being mobile.
How to tell if you have good mobility?
Darko suggests that there is no one size fits all, as each individual will have differing range and experience pain on various locations on their body.
Some common areas of pain, include the neck, lower back, tightness in the hips, knees, and ankles.
He mentions, the ability to do a squat is a good indicator of your mobility.
A squat is both a functional movement and a resting position. Taking your hips, knees, and ankles through this range of motion is great for your mobility and strength. Squatting is also very important for a strong, healthy core.
As you get into this position, some points to ask yourself are:
- How far are you comfortably able to squat?
- How long can you stay in a squat?
- Did your spine round?
- Did your pelvis tuck?
The 4 golden tips for better mobility
- Get friendly with mobility tools
Mobility tools such as a lacrosse ball or a foam roller are useful in aiding restricted muscle. These tools allow for self-myofasical release (aka self-massage). Not sure how? Contact the team at Leap to help you.
- Warm up and cool down after every training session
Don’t treat this as an afterthought. Without stretching, the muscles shorten and become tight. They may feel like they are about ready to snap sometimes.
This can lead to injuries and problems such as pulled muscles, joint pain, and muscle damage. If you’re a training junkie, this could mean time-out for you.
- Come to our weekly Stretch and Strengthen class
This class is designed to help in the development of strength and control, to improve movement quality, and to prevent injuries.
- Do at least one Yoga session a week
Connecting your breath with your movement is also thought to have a huge effect on how efficiently you move. Not to mention all those lovely Yoga poses that allow and encourage your body to open up.