June 18th, 2021
Mobility isn’t something many people think about until it becomes an issue. For many, this is after the age of 50, after an injury, or due to something like arthritis.
Maybe you notice getting out of your chair is more difficult than normal, or perhaps you’re struggling to extend your arm over your head. These are often associated with joint mobility issues.
The good news is that regular mobility training is a wonderful way to prevent and improve upon these problems and ensure you maintain functional movement at any age. So, let’s take a few minutes to dive a little deeper into this topic. What is mobility exactly? How does it impact your movement patterns? And how can hiring a trainer improve it?
Flexibility vs Mobility vs Function
More often than not, those who are under 50 years old often come to us with performance and aesthetic goals. More specifically, common goals include gaining strength, losing fat, getting toned, improving muscle endurance, and improving flexibility and posture. Unfortunately, unless it is a weakness they are aware of, it’s rare for us to hear that their number one fitness goal is to improve or maintain mobility.
But it should be! Or at the very least, you should include mobility exercises in your warm-up or cool-down routine — more on this in a bit.)
Sometimes our clients come to us unsure about what the differences are between mobility and flexibility. So, let’s get this part out of the way first.
Flexibility refers to the lengthening abilities of a muscle. Mobility involves the ability of a joint to move through its full range of motion. And mobility can include aspects of flexibility. For instance, if the hamstring muscle is too tight, this can impact hip mobility. The good news is that you can improve both flexibility and mobility. In fact, functional exercises are a great place to start.
What Are Functional Exercises?
Functional exercises include movements that help improve your mobility and help you perform activities in your daily life with much more ease. For example, squatting helps you sit and stand from a chair easier. Likewise, deadlifts can help you lift objects off the ground with more ease and less risk of injury, such as the dreaded back pain.
All in all, these functional movement patterns also increase and maintain mobility in a wide-variety of joints. For instance, the squat improves hip, ankle, and knee mobility. And we’re going to go over some of these functional exercises in relation to mobility. But first, let’s take a brief look at the importance of mobility.
7 Mobility Tips & Tricks
Mobility is essential for reducing your risk of injury and making daily physical activities easier. In fact, good mobility can even enhance your balance and coordination capabilities. This is invaluable when it comes to preventing falls or thwarting injury.
So, how can you improve your mobility starting today? We’ve got seven tips!
1. Perform Mobility Exercises Regularly
Consistency is key. Sure, you could go perform a few mobility exercises right now and leave it at that. But this isn’t going to help you maintain or improve your mobility in the long-term. You want to perform these exercises each week — and at least, be performing them a couple of times a week.
2. Include Functional Training in Your Exercise Program
This means throwing in some squats, lunges, deadlifts, push movements, and pull upper body movements into your regular workout routine. These functional movements can help maintain mobility, and even help you determine areas where you can improve. For example, if you can’t get your squat that deep, you might want to work on hip and ankle mobility and flexibility.
3. Use Dynamic & Static Stretching to Improve Flexibility
Using both dynamic and static stretching targets your mobility in multiple ways. Static stretches involve holding a position for 20-30 seconds. This allows the muscle to lengthen. A great example is the classic static seated hamstring stretch.
Meanwhile, dynamic stretching involves movement that lengthens and activates specific muscle groups. These types of stretches also aim to move your joints through their full range. Common examples of dynamic stretches include lunges, trunk twists, or arm circles.
Nothing is more effective than being stretched by a qualified personal trainer. In our outdoor & in-home workouts we facilitate stretching with all of our clients. And in our virtual workouts, our approach is to guide you through a customized stretching plan – which often integrates tools, including bands, a towel, a wall, or even a door frame.
4. Try Foam Rolling
Remember, flexibility can significantly impact your mobility. Foam rolling can help alleviate tight muscles or muscle knots, contributing to more flexible muscles. More flexible muscles can help you achieve greater joint mobility.
For proper use of a foam roller, position yourself so that the muscle you want to target is perpendicular to the foam roller. This allows you to roll back and forth over top of the foam roller, while applying a moderate amount of pressure. Do this for 30 seconds or up to two minutes. It may hurt a bit, but it should feel like a good pain — as if tension is slowly dissipating throughout the targeted muscle group.
5. Take Rest Days
Many people forget that rest days are an essential piece in any exercise program. Rest allows the body adequate time to recover and rebuild, preventing injury and pain. However, if you find you really can’t sit still, you may want to consider performing a stretching routine on your rest days, which may further your mobility gains.
6. Find Your Weaknesses & Fix Them
If you know you have tight hips, work on it! Determining where your weaknesses lie and actively working toward fixing them can help enhance your mobility and overall health.
7. Hire a Nielsen Fitness Trainer
Last but not least, hire us and we will team you up with the right personal trainer for you! Together we’ll create and work you through a customized exercise plan — which will consider all of your goals and include a realistic timeline to help you achieve them.
So, whether it is to improve your cardio, flexibility, mobility, functional strength, or simply to not be gassed going up the stairs and to feel good, we’ll help you get there.
Want your mobility assessed and graded by us? Contact us to apply for a complimentary fitness assessment and first workout.
Updated on August 25, 2022.