Exercise when practiced properly helps to improve the working capacity of the body and makes us more functional. Mobility is a very important aspect of improved functionality. Generally people understand mobility as flexibility which is partially correct. Flexibility is to lengthen the muscle fibres whereas mobility allows movements in its functional full range of motion. Mobility involves flexibility, balance, strength and co-ordination in movement.
Mobility requirements stay the same irrespective of whether you are a pro athlete, gym goer, sports practitioner, parent active with your kids or someone who plays sport for recreation.
You may question the need for mobility exercises. But first think about the sudden pain from a movement you may have experienced in your elbow, upper back or lower back. Often your focus goes to the area of pain. But you rarely question the source of pain. Most times than not the pain is a natural mobility issue and originates from another source point in the body. Lower back pain might be an issue with hip mobility, and theupper back pain could be caused from tightness in the chest and shoulders.
Here are some mobility exercises which involve controlled voluntary movements to improve range of motion in all targeted joints. The kinetic chain of nervous, skeletal and musculoskeletal systems are utilized optimally during the practice. Kinetic chain is the chain of systems that link together to create human movement.
Sample Mobility Exercise:
• Stand straight with feet hip width apart
• Keeping your legs straight,bend forward to touch the floor with your hands
• Walk your hands forward taking small steps to a plank position(push up top position)
• Lower your hips to the floor while stretching your chest upwards(cobra posture) as you keep your hands pressed to the floor.
• Lift your hips upwards to assume an inverted V position (mountain posture)
• Raise your right leg up towards the ceiling and swing it forward to replace your right hand(lunge position). Keep your hips close to the floor without overextending your right knee.
• Raise both arms up parallel to the floor and rotate clockwise and back
• Place both hands on the floor and step your right leg back to push up position and walk your hands back to a forward bend position.
• Bend your knees to assume a low sitting position and stand up to repeat
Note: Alternate the leg on number five in the next round.
The benefits of mobility exercises are immense and please note that it is different from regular stretching. While stretching elongates the muscles, it does not break up the adhesions in the connective tissues. The entire skeletal muscles are covered by fascia (fibrous tissue), this tissue gets stuck together by faulty repetitive posture (extremely common for majority of people), injury, post-surgery, etc. Stretching does not help release this points, and these are the very points that masseurs address and which leaves you feeling good after a good massage.But when you incorporate mobility exercises into your routine, you enjoy the benefit of undoing the day to day stress you put on your body. Mobility exercises also help prevent injury, improve performance, relieve pain and reduce muscle soreness, and is cheaper than getting a massage every other day.