Increase your mobility and get to the next level of training, tennis, golf, yoga and just plain ol’ living.
You read it right: improving your mobility can improve your sports performance, help you break through a training plateau, fix muscle imbalances and create pain-free living. But, La Jolla Sports Club, you say, I can literally bend over backwards and my Gumby impression is on fleek! Sorry, LJSCer, but flexibility is not mobility (though they do work together).
Science (!) explains that flexibility is the ability of a muscle to stretch temporarily when needed. Mobility, on the other hand, is the joint’s ability to actively move through its intended range of motion (ROM). And so, while a person may have great flexibility, they may also have poor mobility / ROM.
According to James Wilson at Bike James, ‘It is basic engineering—a joint that can get into proper alignment so that the bones are taking most of the stress will be more stable than a joint that can’t.’
Men’s Journal breaks it down even further: ‘Head into a workout with limited ROM, and your assistance muscles will start to compensate. Because assistance muscles are typically smaller and weaker, forcing them to handle excessive torque is a recipe for pain and injury. Worse, if your lifts aren’t activating primary muscles because you can’t achieve full range-of-motion, you probably won’t even build the muscle you’re working toward.’
So how does mobility work help? Think about the deadlift: To achieve optimal deadlift position, you need flexible hips and mobility in several joints and muscles. When you have inflexible hips or hamstrings, the neighboring joints and muscles (that aren’t necessarily built for that… hello, lower back!) will have to pick up some of the strain. Don’t buy it? Ask any of your La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainers the problems that can stem from muscular / skeletal imbalances.
Or, better yet, take the free workshop from our in-house mobility guru, Matt Pippin. You’ve probably seen him taking clients through joint movements, and he’s offering the free workshop—exclusive for La Jolla Sports Club members—on Saturday, January 26th from 12.30pm-2pm. You can find more details, including a 5-day online challenge, here.
We’ll cover Matt and a few of his favorite mobility moves next post, but in the meantime, try to start thinking about mobility as a skill, like strength or speed. You need to build up your mobility, but at the very least (until you take Matt’s class), start your workout with:
- Myofascial work, like foam rolling
- Controlled dynamic stretches
- Bodyweight movements, like the squat or lunge
Note from Men’s Journal: ‘Move slowly and deliberately. Controlled dynamic stretching will increase joint ROM and enhance muscle power better than both static stretching (stretch and hold) and ballistic stretching (stretch and bounce), according to an October 2017 study published in Sports Medicine.’
Additionally, base your warmup on your workout. Matching your warmup with your workout will not only activate the muscles you’re focusing on, but also cement proper joint alignment and muscle activation in your brain.
OK, that’s enough information for today, but be sure to check out the mobility workshop and the next post for more mobility information! Until then, Happy New Year, let’s make this a great one!
// Your friends at La Jolla Sports Club