“The ability to move freely or be easily moved”
This is the Cambridge Dictionary definition for mobility. When we talk about mobility in our bodies and at our joints, we are thinking about being able to perform universal, functional human movements such as pushing, pulling, squatting and hinging in a safe, effective and efficient way.
Mobility can often be mistaken for flexibility, and whilst you need to have a degree of flexibility in order to have good mobility, this is not the full story. For example, in order to perform a deadlift and squat efficiently, you need to not only have flexibility and length in your muscles but also a good degree of neuromuscular control and range of movement at your joints too.
In an ideal world, our skeleton would be beautifully aligned and supported by our muscles, ligaments and tendons. However, due to habitual movement patterns and the fact that we use some muscles more than others in day-to-day life, it is a fact that we have some muscles that are longer and weaker and some muscles that are stronger but perhaps tighter. Depending on the degree of this, it can lead to our joints not sitting in an optimal position and that can then have an effect on our movements, possibly leading to injury or pain.
An example of this can be something as simple as sitting in a chair. If you are sat now just take a look at your hips. You’ll notice that in order to maintain this position, your hip flexors are shortened, and your glutes will be lengthened. As you are supported by the chair this is a relatively passive position, yet it is a position we spend a lot of time in especially if we work at a desk or sat down a lot of the time. This can lead to tightness in the front of the hips and often weakness in our lengthened and inactive glutes. When we then come to perform functional movements like squats, this can have an effect on how our muscles and joints behave; sometimes leading to pain and injury but even if you escape those you will have ultimately inefficient movements.
Top 3 Mobility Movements
We recommend including mobility exercises into your warm-ups and if you don’t partake in a sport, we would suggest you add them somewhere into your daily routine in order to promote optimal movement and reduce your risk of injury. We would recommend focusing on your ankles, hips and mid back; here is an example of one of each of those:
1. Split lunge
Stand with your feet hip width apart. Take a big step forwards with one foot into a lunge and send your knee forwards of your toes, making sure you keep your heel down. You should feel a stretch in your ankle and maybe your calf. Hold for a few seconds and then drive back into your start position. Repeat this 5 times on each side.
2. Overhead squat
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width and turn them out slightly as in preparation to squat. Link your arms overhead, holding on to the opposite elbow. Make sure you keep your chest as open as possible. Lift one heel and squat down as low as you can, ensuring you keep your chest tall. Stand back up and repeat on the other side. Complete this 10 times in total.
3. Thoracic Rotations
Stand with your feet hip width apart. Step forwards into a lunge keeping your front knee directly over your ankle (don’t send your knee forwards of your toes this time). Put both hands on the floor on the inside of your foot, then lift one arm and rotate your spine looking up towards the ceiling. Bring that hand down and go the other way. Make sure you keep your hips still and rotate through your back! Repeat 10 times then swap legs.
Have a look at our Reset Class; designed to improve your mobility and functional strength. Classes available on the “Live Classes” tab of the website.