Mobility Training: Making it a part of your daily routine

We often have a bad habit of putting things off until the last minute, thinking that there will be a better time to pursue a task. However, when it comes to your health, neglect is not the best strategy! The countless hours of the day that are spent sitting wreak havoc on our joints and as joint motion starts to become restricted and range of motion declines, simple tasks become difficult ones. Having a regular exercise routine is a great start to combating the negative effects associated with the sedentary lifestyle that the majority of us lead. But what happens when there are certain aspects still missing from your training routine?

What is mobility training, and why is it important?

Too often, we neglect to focus our attention on mobility training. This means dedicating time to performing movements that seek to improve the existing range of a joint. Unfortunately, problems associated with poor mobility don’t always arise immediately. Many injuries are a cumulative process that develop over time and pain is usually the first warning sign. If not addressed this can lead to the development of various musculo-skeletal problems as a consequence.

For a joint to be considered mobile, it has to acquire the ability to move freely through its full range of motion and in a controlled manner. Some of the benefits to possessing this quality include decreased risk of injury and joint pain, maintaining proper posture, increased performance in workouts or sports, as well as being able to meet the demands of daily living! This includes tasks such as getting in and out of a car, getting dressed or tending to household chores - all of which require our joints and muscles to move properly! It really isn't until these aspects of our lives are affected that we see the importance of addressing the quality of movement of our joints and surrounding tissue.   

The areas in the body that need specific attention are the ankles, hips, mid back and shoulders. The shoulder joint needs specific attention, since its structural design makes it vulnerable to injury if mobility is not balanced with adequate stability. A common example of what can occur is compensation through the low back (lumbar spine) in the form of excess movement due to a restricted upper back (thoracic spine). This creates stress on the joints of the lumbar spine, which may result in pain in the low back and lead to potential problems down the road! Restricted ankles due to tight calves can down-regulate one of the most important muscles in our body: the glutes. This can lead to hip or low back problems, or can even trickle further downstream and affect the knee joints.

How to implement mobility training

There are various ways that you can then go about implementing mobility work into your daily routine, and the best part is that it can be done almost anywhere! Incorporating it into your training routine is one strategy. Mobility drills can and should be used as part of your warm up to prep the joints and tissue prior to loading. This can be achieved by means of dynamic stretching drills or self-myofascial release. Similarly, you can incorporate these same drills immediately following your training to further reinforce motion. Mobility drills can also be performed during rest periods in a training session, either between exercises or sets.

Setting aside small intervals throughout the day is another great strategy - which in some cases is more effective than dedicating time during training sessions alone! By doing so, you're promoting and maintaining movement at all times. Above all, keep in mind that consistency is key! The moment we stop being proactive is when we revert back to old states and habits! Like everything else in life, done often enough, a behaviour will become routine. If you prioritise and add mobility work into your training, you'll spare yourself the stress of having to deal with potential nags and pains down the road! It will allow you to maximise your athletic performance while moving through the simple tasks of daily life with ease!  

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Yours in health,

Coach Danka

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