Mobility, what is it?
What is mobility?
It’s a term thrown around all too often in the fitness industry, and with multiple meanings can often cause some confusion.
Stripping it back and using our good friend Dr Google, we can break down this beast and come to its true meaning:
Mobility means “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.”
Exercise can be defined as an “activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness.”
Putting these two definitions we can define mobility exercise as a physical movement requiring effort to improve the ability to move freely.
I am often asked “Is mobility the same as flexibility?” The simple answer is No. Mobility, in a sense, incorporates the flexibility of muscles and tendons along with the joint/ capsule tightness, as well as what I believe to be one of the most important factors; the co-ordination between agonist and antagonist muscle activation.
Putting it simply, mobility relates to everything that impacts joint movement.
Why is this important?
It is common knowledge that the body is designed to move. It’s not so common knowledge that exercise and movement can actually influence our body much in the same way that medicine does. If you’re keen to check this out in more detail there is an extensive list of factsheets available at exerciseismedicine.com.au.
With this in mind, you can only imagine how important being able to move freely and easily is in terms of benefitting our everyday life.
If movement is impaired or the body can no longer “freely and easily” move, complications arise and I’m not just referring to injury or illness here either. The concept of not being able to freely move can arise purely from poor training techniques, muscle discrepancies left to right or back to front, or lack of training through full range.
Please refer back to the Atkins Health philosophy: “The body is purely an adaptable machine, changing to become more efficient at whatever challenges you throw at it”. If all you throw at your body is reduced movement exercises, it will become damn good at performing that but forget about the rest. This is a massive problem with modern day training resulting in movement difficulties and improper loading which will eventually lead to reduced performance, pain and injury.
So what to do?
The best thing for those who are reading this questioning their methods with some concern is that the fix is easy and doesn’t require a great deal of change. The hardest part is dissecting the movement, assessing the mobility and putting your finger on whatever it is that is actually causing the reduction in free movement (remembering this quite often isn’t poor flexibility, but problems with motor firing, activation sequencing, joint/capsule tightness etc.). We are more than happy to help here if needed.
From here it is as simple as fixing the issue, taking the body through full range exercises where ever possible within your program (each joint/movement should see full range at least 1-2 times a week). I completely understand that some resistance programs demand limited range to obtain the desired “fullness” or isolation of individual muscles, as seen in bodybuilding, physique or even some sports. I am not suggesting to completely change this, however merely stating the benefits of adding these movements into your weekly routine. Then it is as simple as:
ENJOYING THE REWARDS of a fully functional, strong, and healthy body.