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.  And this is a big problem.

Some research compares ‘sitting as the new smoking‘ (see our latest article here).

Eventually, this hunched over position leads to tightness, inflexibility, and poor posture. You’ll start to feel hip pain, back pain, ankle pain, tightness in the body, and more.

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?

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.

Try drawing a big circles slowly with each arms from the shoulder joint – how far can you reach forward, how far can you extend backward, how high can you reach, do you feel any restrictions in this movement, do you feel any other parts of the body trying to help you with this movement, do you feel freer moving one arm than the other?

Why is mobility 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 training 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
  • Reduce the risk of injury

Mobility training can help to alleviate your everyday aches and pains, such as lower back pain or knee pain, improve your body awareness, and help to make your 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 MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY?

The two terms seem to be used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things.

Flexibility refers to the ability to stretch your muscles.

Mobility refers to elements that contribute to movement including joints, the joint capsules, muscle tissue, motor control, AND soft tissue.  Good mobility means you have a full range of motion in all the movments that happen at each joint.

Flexibility is very much a part of mobility. Both contributing to the component of being mobile.

Good 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.

Why can’t I touch my toes?

A good example of mobility and flexibility at play is the action of touching your toes when standing or seated with legs out in front.

Many of our members comment they lack the “flexibility” to touch their toes, when in fact, it could be a lack of mobility in their hips to enable this action.

Of course, flexibility in your lower limb muscles (remember flexibility refers to the ability of your muscles to stretch) e.g. your hamstrings definitely help to touch your toes.  But if your hip joint has limited degree of movement (think tilting your pelvis forwards and back), it’ll impede the forward-folding movement to reach your toes.  In this case, once we mobilise the hips, the members could easily touch their toes and some more!


How to tell if you have good mobility?

There’s 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.

Having said that, 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? – you want to keep your pelvis neutral

The 3 GOLDEN TIPS for better mobility + flexibility

  1. 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?  Join our weekly Mobility + Release class, where you’ll be guided through a series of movements and techniques to help un-knot the tight areas in your body.  [Book via timetable, or contact studio for your complimentary trial class!]

  1. 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.

  1. Stretch, and also strengthen!

Weak muscles tend to become tight, so strengthening them can help increase muscle length over time leading to greater flexibility.  Read more about it in our Exercise Q&A “How to Improve Flexibility Without Long Stretches”.  This is why Yoga and Pilates can be so effective in improving your mobility and flexibiltiy, because both incorporate strengthening as well as the lengthening of muscle tissues, whilst working on joint mobility.

Start your active life with Leap,

your partner in health and wellbeing.

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