You hear it all the time in your training program: flexibility and mobility. But what do they really mean? Most people think they mean the same thing but they don’t.
Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen.
Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. In other words, the releasing of restricted muscle around a joint.
So why should you care? Consider this: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body won’t function in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could move as normal. Then, while exercising, you’re essentially performing these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time.
But that doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day limbering up like Gumby. Work daily on areas that you know are tight and have a history of limited movement. Daily mobility practices can strengthen your joints and better prepare your body for higher demands resulting in increased performance and reduced risk of injury,
3 areas to focus on to stay sexy and flexy:
1. Soft Tissue Work: typically Foam Rolling or self-massage. Light movement over a lacrosse ball or foam roller can bring relief to tight or sore muscles.
2. Mobility Exercises: mobilizing a joint or area just around it. Usually done with a lacrosse ball or bands to loosen restricted areas. To learn specifically about these therapies, check out Mobility WOD by Kelly Starrett for hundreds of videos categorized by areas of the body.
3. Stretching: light stretching before or after a workout to loosen muscles. To increase general flexiness, specifically as in Yoga.
Mobility should be a proactive approach, not a reactive one. In other words, don’t wait until problems arise before you address them.
In order to grow and perform, you must repair. Take these steps and make them a part of your daily training.