Think of mobility as the movement of our limbs; arms, legs using our joints through the full range of motion.
Mobility in our day to day life is very important. Lose mobility, or restrict mobility due to an injury, or incorrect training can limit our activities, or drastically impact our ability to move, causing us to alter our plans and sometimes having to totally remove ourselves from any activity.
Mobility can be compromised by our daily activity. If you are a typical North American, sitting at a desk for a good part of your day, or sitting on a couch for extended periods of time, you have developed certain muscles that are causing imbalances, which can impact mobility.
A runner is another example. Constant running will generally cause shortening of the hamstring, and other muscles, resulting in compromised movement in other exercises, such as squats. It can also develop in injuries that will limit your ability to run.
What can be done?
Firstly, it is important to understand how to train safely to prevent injuries. If you are unsure of an exercise, I recommend you consult with an expert. When resistance training, try to use the full range of motion. Let’s look at pushups. Pushups can be a very challenging exercise when executed properly. How many people are keeping their core tight, straight through the whole range of motion? How many people are lowering themselves to the ground until they have a 90 degree bend in their elbows? Exactly. If you have ever watched a number of people doing pushups, you would think it’s a timed event, because they are going fast, and the range of motion gets cut short. Take your time! Use the 2-1-4-0 cadence to slow things down.
Ensure you are using full range of motion. Your muscles will become stronger at those positions where most people don’t go. Those stronger muscles can better support the joints through full range of motion. Same thing with body weight squats. Lower yourself to the point you have a 90 degree bend in your legs. I see too many people who stop at about 50 – 60 degrees. Then, when they are participating in activities outside of exercise, and have to bend their legs past that point, they are weaker, and more susceptible to injury.
Back to my early point regarding our daily habits impacting our muscular imbalances. If you can, talk to a personal trainer about getting a postural assessment done. This will identify muscular imbalances, and a personal trainer can create a program to address the imbalances.
Lastly, don’t worry! You’re here reading this, so you must be interested in improving your health, your fitness! That’s fantastic! We all have imbalances, mobility issues because we are slaves to our lives. We all have to work, and let’s face it, work places have been slow to adopt to modern thinking about how to improve the workplace for individuals. Most companies are only interested in hard costs when dealing with return on investments. Savings due to changes to the work place environment that increase efficiencies, and prevent time off due to injuries, like more ergonomic chairs, and ergonomic workstations cannot be quantified into hard dollars so they are disregarded.
The one thing you can do is remember to get up every so often and move. Carry out some dynamic stretching activities if you can. Think about the impact to your body if you are sitting in the same position, your arms out in front on the keyboard for 2 – 3 hours straight before a break, times 2 to 3 times a day. Now, think about that for a period of 10 to 30 years! You might as well call it a repetitive strain injury.
Lastly, try to use full range of motion when resistance training. It will be harder. Right, it will be harder. But that’s the point! Exercise is supposed to be hard! That’s when you benefit. That’s when you grow. That’s when you win!
Yours in health,