MOBILITY, MOBILITY, MOBILITY...
You've heard me mention this in other blogs and heck, it's in my company tagline and is the foundation for everything we do. But what is it and why is it so important?
Mobility is the body's ability to control itself in each individual's range of motion and it determines how much movement there is in that particular range. The key word here is control. People with good mobility can control their entire body when moving through various positions. When mobility is at a high level, you are able to increase human function while mitigating injury because you have total control over your tissues and joints. If you do not have control, you're setting yourself up for injury because you cannot control your movements....even the ones we'd all consider to be simple.
LET'S BE CLEAR
Mobility involves strength, flexibility and a little bit of patience but once you get in the habit of including it in your daily routine, the rewards are limitless. Let's be clear though - mobility is not stretching, it's not a warm-up and has nothing to do with a foam roller whatsoever. It's just as vital a component to reaching your goals as strength and cardiovascular work. Mobility is something that can improve your day-to-day activities and reaching your strength training goals. On the flip side, a lack of mobility can impair these activities and goals.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM IT?
Everyone can! No matter your age or fitness level, anyone can and SHOULD include a mobility routine in their lives. It will help those with existing injuries take charge of their recovery and for those with an existing strength training program, this is the one tool that will compliment and support what you're currently doing, to help you take your training to the next level. It's not a magic pill but many see a difference after the first routine. Benefits include:
When someone has good mobility, you'll see that they have a large range of motion, they have strength/control of that range, and everything moves smoothly.
If a person with good mobility is suddenly placed in that range of motion in a real life situation, there's a really good chance they will be able to overcome whatever comes their way. A few examples include:
A gymnast - how do they flip around and stay in control? Good mobility.
You miss a step walking down the street and you're able to catch yourself without feeling a jarring sensation up your back.
You can do an overhead press with load, without straining your back.
Guess what? You can do anything you want to do without fear of getting injured. Let your imagination run wild!
You'll see that when someone has poor mobility, they not only lack range of motion, but display poor motor control through that range of motion. The motion will feel jerky when moving, almost like a CD skipping (old school reference, I know). They'll also start using other parts of the body to help out. For the person with poor mobility, their chance of something bad happening is very high. The tissues and joints are not prepared to handle things that are thrown their way.
Has this ever happened to you or someone you know? Someone gets an injury that "randomly" happened by doing what seemed like the most mundane task:
Grabbing groceries out of the car and they throw their back out.
Bending down to grab their kid's toy off of the ground and they feel something funny in their knee.
Putting luggage in the overhead bin on the plane and they feel a pinch in their shoulder.
Being on your toes or rounding at the back in a deep squat.
WHERE ARE YOU AT?
In the videos below, you'll see examples of the differences between good and poor mobility on the upper body and then the lower body. Use these videos as a guide to evaluate where you're at. What are you feeling? Are your movements limited on one side more than the other? Just remember that it can only get better from here. Also, it's important not to force these movements when you try this. Move slowly and smoothly through your personal ranges of motion.
Upper Body Mobility Examples
Lower Body Mobility Examples
See room for improvement? Luckily there's an app for that. Errr well, not really but there's something you can do about it.
In the next few weeks we have some exciting things coming your way where we'll dive deeper into mobility with some actionable items you can use to get on the path of improving it. Until then, check out my YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook pages for more strength and mobility tips.
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Level 3 Fascial Stretch Therapist with over 15 years experience in his field. After years of playing sports as a child, Matt gained an interest in health and wellness and decided to pursue a career in strength and conditioning. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Exercise Science in 2005. During college Matt played rugby and interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the football team.
Post graduation, he worked with professional athletes as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder. For 8 years, Matt worked in Chicago, IL at the East Bank Club as a Master Personal Trainer, Performance Coach and Fascial Stretch Therapist helping athletes and weekend warriors achieve their personal goals. Inspired by the overall quality and active lifestyle that California is known for, Matt and his wife Jennifer moved to San Diego in the summer of 2014 and haven’t looked back!
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)