What is Mobility and why it should be important to you.

Maximise your mobility and crush your resistance training by implementing these movements to your warmups.
Move headquarters Currumbin Gym Coaches and Personal Training

Mobility has long been a buzzword used in the fitness space. Often confused with flexibility, mobility focuses on the ability of the body to achieve its full range of motion (ROM), while flexibility refers to the muscle’s ability to lengthen. It is something we use in our training and daily life each day – the ability to move freely and easily without muscular restriction.

We often experience muscle tightness in our day-to-day from sitting in stagnant positions for extended amounts of time. This tightness limits our ROM when we step into the gym space, meaning sometimes our smaller ‘assistance muscles’ start to overcompensate, for example, lower back pain is a very common experience. This also means we aren’t properly utilising the muscle groups meant to be targeted in our training. It has been proven that using a full ROM helps to build more muscle for example (read more here).

It’s often that we don’t realise additional mobility work is needed until it’s too late, and we have sustained an injury.

Whilst mobility work isn’t as exciting as hitting a squat PB or ripping into a SWEAT session, it’s important for us to implement in small amounts into our training, and will help us to push harder, squat deeper, and jump higher, with a decreased risk of injury in the long term.

But what does ‘mobility work’ entail?

These are simple exercises, a lot of the time utilising our bodyweight, that will help us to increase ROM in and strengthen our joints and stabilising muscles. Essentially, the incorporation of strength and flexibility together. 

There are plenty of exercises out there that can help us become more mobile in different joints. 

Mobility work is often done before a workout to assist us in the lifts or movements we will be completing. You will notice in your sessions at MOVE that a lot of the time, our warmup is indicative of the joints muscle groups we will be working most predominantly throughout the respective session.
Dynamic stretching is perhaps the most common – and has been shown to be one of the best – ways to warm up before movement. It’s also been shown to increase joint ROM and enhance power in muscles more than static (holding a stretch) or ballistic (holding and pulsing in a stretch) stretching (read more here)

Now that we know mobility work will help with our training and in injury prevention, we can move through some general mobility for basic movement patterns we experience in our training.

    Lower Body Movement

    When we work the lower body, it’s important to open up the hips and get the ankles warm and mobile. 

    We can do this using stretches such as – 

    • 90/90 stretch – great for opening up the hips
      Starting in a seated position with knees bent in front of you, push both knees to the floor to the right of the body. They should form 90 degree angles. Then, begin to pull the left knee off the floor and rotate to the left, aiming to get as far as possible before the right knee comes off the floor. Bring both knees to the floor on the left side and repeat. 
    • Cossack squat/side to side groin stretch/lateral lunge
      From a standing position, take a step to the side. Bend through one knee and get as low as possible into a squat on one leg whilst keeping the other leg straight out to the side. From there, shift bodyweight to the other leg, bending through the knee to form the same position on the opposite side, aiming for depth and flexion through the ankle. Continue shifting side to side. 
    • Frog stretch (static)
      In a kneeling tabletop position, bring the knees as far apart as possible aiming to stretch the groin. Keep the shins pointing directly behind you. Hold the stretch. 

    Core Activation

    When we lift weights in any capacity, utilising our core to stabilise the body is of utmost importance. 

    We can activate the core using stretches such as – 

    • Bird dog. In a tabletop position, lift one arm in front of you to shoulder height whilst also extending the opposite leg behind you. Repeat whilst alternating sides. 
    • Dead Bug. In a lying tabletop position, bring one arm behind your head to tab the floor whilst also extending the opposite leg in front. Repeat whilst alternating sides. 

    Upper Body Movement

    When we work the upper body, it’s important to open up the shoulder joints so we feel warm and mobile.

    • Pass throughs
      With a wooden stick or a resistance band, grab both ends with a wider grip and begin to bring it overhead and then behind the body before bringing it back to the front in the same motion, allowing for full rotation of the shoulder joint. Slowly adapt a narrower grip based on what feels comfortable but challenging.
      Another variation – bring it over the body one arm at a time. 
    • External rotation
      With a very light dumbbell (2-3kg), bring the arm up to shoulder height with the elbow bent at a right angle, with the palm facing the floor. Bring the dumbbell up towards the body, and once the forearm is vertical, back down to the starting position. Repeat for 1 set of 12-15 and then switch to the opposite arm.

    Lower Back

    Our back supports us heavily in our training and day to day life. It is important to stretch and warm the back in the right positions to get us ready to lift weights whilst supporting our back. 

    • Cat Cow stretch.
      In a tabletop position, arch through the back pushing down and bring the head up to face the ceiling. Then arch through the shoulder blades and bring the back up to the ceiling, bringing the head down to face the chest. Repeat. 
    • Thoracic rotation.
      In a tabletop position, bring one hand behind the head and flare the elbow upwards rotating the spine to race outwards. Then bring the elbow down towards the body rotating the spine to face inwards. Repeat.
    • External rotation.
      With a very light dumbbell (2-3kg), bring the arm up to shoulder height with the elbow bent at a right angle, with the palm facing the floor. Bring the dumbbell up towards the body, and once the forearm is vertical, back down to the starting position. Repeat for 1 set of 12-15 and then switch to the opposite arm.

    So how do I apply these movements?

    When training at Move Headquarters Currumbin, a lot of these movements & similar variations will already appear in your warmups! However a great routine to get into is to perform 3-4 movements for 30 seconds – 1 minute before training, dependent on what muscle groups and joints will be used the most heavily throughout the session.

    Maddi Good.
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