Mobility is both beneficial to all aspects of fitness and is easy to improve and maintain. It is your ability to control your limbs throughout their full range of motion, and can sometimes be confused for stretching. Although stretching and flexibility are both aspects of mobility, mobility has a direct functional effect on movement. By working on mobility, not only will you be able to avoid injury but you will be able to execute exercises with more power and efficiency. Watch the video below to see how different mobility exercises can help you get into a more optimal squat position.
As the school year begins, the gym gets packed with students from a wide range of fitness levels. From beginners to thoroughbred fitness gurus, students are eager to put the amazing facility at the ARC to good use. But, before you go charging in to grab a bench or claim a pair of dumbbells, let’s take the time out to prepare the most important piece of equipment in the gym: you. Your body is the most complex machine found in any gym facility. With over 200 bones and over 650 different muscles, it is important to recognize the endless possibilities of movement patterns and leverages it can accomplish.
Making sure your body has the sufficient mobility for weightlifting should be an essential part of your workout routine. It allows you to get into optimal positions and execute movements in ways where you are testing the strength of your muscles and not the integrity of your joints. It also prevents injury by giving you the awareness of any weaknesses you may have in your muscle groups so you will not compensate by overworking and straining other dominant muscle groups during exercises.
Lack of mobility often manifests itself in large compound movements. The squat is a great example. Lifters will often times lack mobility at the bottom of the squat in their ankles and hips, which forces their toes and knees forward and outward to create space for their hips to drop down, while at the same time, shifting weight onto the toes. This starts an avalanche of problems as your body attempts to compensate for the lack of strength created by the poorly leveraged squat position. As the knees come forward, all the weight shifts onto the quads, eliminating the entire posterior chain from the movement (the posterior chain consists of all the muscles on the backside of your body including the glutes, hamstrings, calves, and back). The body will compensate for the lack of strength with the knees, hips, and lower back, putting them under tremendous strain and often leading to injuries in the future.
You can improve your mobility in countless ways. Essentially every muscle in your body can be worked on and improved for better performance. Several high quality foam rollers and bands are available for checkout at the front desk and the PVC pipe is available for use in the Fitness Room. The ARC also offers various Yoga and Pilates classes throughout the day to all members which can help you strengthen your mind muscle connection and your core while improving flexibility and mobility. So before you go crazy with the weights, take a moment to make sure your body is primed, supple, and ready for action
Article by: Jimmy Shiba, Graduate Health Promotion Intern, MPH Candidate
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More mobility resources:
(A more in depth description of joint mobility and joint stability as the foundation of any workout program)
(Joint mobility as it relates directly to the squat. Video and article by multiple powerlifting world record holder Bryce Lewis)
(The difference between mobility and flexibility.)