Mobility is defined as the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. Spend 5 minutes watching a toddler and you will understand this definition. You may feel a little jealous as you watch your children move effortlessly into the deepest of deep squats or as they clamber up a climbing frame, somehow managing to get their leg up above their head to pull them over the edge.
Now consider… that used to be you, it used to be all of us!
So, where did it all go wrong? To put it simply, as we get older, we spend more and more time sitting down. We sit at school, college and university. We sit at work, we often sit on the way to and from work. We then go home and…. relax! This commonly results in predictable patterns of immobility including tight hips, ridged shoulders, stiff backs, underactive glutes and quadriceps as tight as guitar strings!
Mobility has often been overlooked in the race to reach the squat rack. I consider it to be one of the most underutilised skills in fitness, just as we can improve strength and power, we can also improve our mobility. At Buzz Gym we have an awesome Track and Field zone, a great space to complete mobility drills before hitting the deadlift platform!
You may be thinking, that’s great, but what will improving my mobility achieve, other then allowing me to move like a toddler again?
Greater mobility will decrease your chances of injury – if you are lacking mobility in a particular joint, another joint will have to compensate. This often leads to injury and/or incorrect movement patterns (poor form). A good example of this is the barbell shoulder press. The next time you perform this lift, do it without overarching your lower back. If you can’t, you are more then likely lacking mobility in your shoulder joints and therefore putting undue stress on your lower back. If you don’t have the mobility to execute a movement properly, the cues your personal trainer or gym buddy give you, will not cure your poor form.
Boring…. I hear you say…I just want to get strong! Well, having poor mobility will decrease your ability to generate power and absorb force through your muscles and joints – thus leading to strength losses. On the flipside increasing your mobility, and training safely in your new range of motion, will improve your strength and power output.
It’s important to understand that improving mobility takes time, you won’t see a difference overnight. As with any other type of training, the body will take time to adapt. However, making an effort to complete some basic drills will result in you moving better, gaining strength and being less prone to injury. I begin my personal training sessions at Buzz Gym, Oxford with specific mobility drills according to my clients needs and the session I have programmed for them. Now…go forth and be mobile!