Why Is Mobility So Important?

Listen, I love a good workout as much as the next person. Getting my butt kicked and living off the feel-good high that comes from challenging myself and using my body to perform at its best is something I hope everyone can enjoy. But with this pleasure comes responsibility. To be able to crush my workouts day in and day out requires an equal amount of dedication to recovery. This includes fueling my body with proper nutrients from whole foods to help it build lean muscles and burn off unnecessary fat and working on both my flexibility and mobility so that my body doesn’t get injured from either working out or doing regular chore work.
You see, without proper mobility, I wouldn’t be able to recover and move like an athlete- no less a regular person! Flexibility, though just as important, refers to our muscles (soft tissues) being able to stretch. Mobility, on the other hand, is all about moving with a full range of motion. [1] (I cover this in more detail here.) And it’s important for a number of reasons- reasons so important that I wanted to cover them in today’s post. Read on to find out the importance of mobility! At the end, I’ll link to several of my favorite mobility drills that you can follow along (with me) at the ZGYM!

It Keeps You Ageless

Look no further than seniors and you’ll see what I’m talking about when it comes to maintaining one’s mobility. Ever had a relative throw out their back just by bending over to pick something up from the ground? Or have you yourself ever “twisted” or “moved” in the wrong way that you suddenly sprained an ankle or joint? That’s why mobility is so important! The more diverse ways you can move, the more efficient your body becomes at performing everything from simple tasks like cleaning up the house to more complex activities like hiking on uneven terrain. With mobility comes freedom in the long run. Unless we become bionic superhumans in the near future, we’re going to have to cope with the fact that our body does deteriorate ever so slowly the older we become. Thankfully, we can lessen the degree and, in some cases, slow down, the rate at which this happens by investing in our (aging) future with habits like mobility training. Wouldn’t you rather age with little to no complaints? Or how about this- wouldn’t you like to live independently without someone holding your hand or do things for you? Mobility offers freedom as you age, so don’t assume that it’s only for the young! If anything, it could be a drop from the Fountain of Youth! [2]

Your Physical Performance Improves

Speaking of diversity, the more ways that you can move around without strain, the better you can perform in physical activities such as sports, hiking, or workouts. You never want to be limited with your movements since, aside from increasing your risk injury, you’ll also miss out on using all of your physical potential. And if you’d want to advance to more difficult or complex things like dancing yoga, you’re definitely going to need to uphold your mobility! Going back to injury prevention, mobility also helps to prevent future injuries from the activities that you love! So, if you’re a die-hard weight lifter or HIIT junkie, then it’s extremely important that you have a full range of motion least you force your way into an exercise that’s otherwise limited by your lack of mobility. You’ll only hurt yourself in the end, and no one likes getting injured. But what people do like is better performance. Essentially, through mobility training, you’re enhancing your nervous system by fostering a better mind-to-muscle connection. This is quite important because with it you’re more capable of exerting greater strength, power, and speed, thus improving your physical performance. (Think of it as advancing your exercise capacity.) [3] [4]

Recovery Improves

Rather than staying sedentary after a workout, it helps to switch into recovery mode. Yes, a cool down is just as important (read why here), but afterward, it’s good to practice some mobility drills to keep your body in tip-top shape and to improve the recovery process. Mobility training is a form of active recovery that helps you to tune into your body and incorporate quality movement. You have the opportunity to slow down, work on technique, and make subtle adjustments or improvements to your physical skills. So, take advantage of this time to assess your body for any muscle weaknesses and imbalances; treat it like a sort of “checking in” to see where you’re at and what needs to be improved. (Which again helps to improve your physical performance, whether it’s sports, daily chore work, recreational activities, or working out.) Mobility also allows you to resolve any minor pains or soreness that, in the long run, could lead to potential injuries. Prevention is key, after all! [5]

Good for the Joints

If only our joints could speak, then we’d know that a triple-threat of diet, exercise, and proper recovery helps to keep them in great shape. Mobility training itself helps to protect the joint from future injury as well as the wear-and-tear of overuse that comes from exercise. Rather than deteriorating over time, we can support them through healthy, full ranges of movement. Simple stretching isn’t going to cut it. In fact, according to research that was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, static stretching in which you simply hold a stretch was shown to perform less optimally in comparison to mobility and active stretching. Mobility training, and exercise in general encourages the movement of synovial fluid, which helps to hydrate or cushion the joints, along with blood flow, helping to deliver important nutrients and oxygen to them. And movement itself relieves much of the pain and stiffness that comes from conditions like osteoarthritis. And the less movement we incorporate on a day to day basis the sooner our joints start to deteriorate. So, let’s keep it simple: Good, quality movement means happy joints! [6] [7]

Start Today

Are you ready to start incorporating mobility training into your routine, but don’t know where to start? Then I have a few recommendations. First, check out my Mob Therapy Checklist and Basic Tools for a primer on mobility training. I’ll be covering more about the factors behind a lack of mobility and the tools that I recommend for training. After that, you can start doing my Mob Therapy series, which covers a specific area in each session. For more diversity, there’s my Mobility Drills series, which works your entire body.
By now I hope you understand the importance of mobility training, and why every lifestyle would benefit from it. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Sources:

[1] https://health.usnews.com/health-news/diet-fitness/fitness/articles/2018-05-29/heres-the-difference-between-flexibility-and-mobility-and-why-it-matters
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3464831/
[3] https://whitepineathletics.com/blog-1/2017/3/25/why-athletes-need-mobility-training
[4] https://www.johnsonfitness.com/blog/flexibility-and-mobility/
[5] https://www.exploreyourfitness.com/blog/mobilityrecovery/
[6] http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2008&issue=07000&article=00035&type=abstract
[7] https://1md.org/article/joint-health-101-1md

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