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Mobility Matters
By: Yes You Can! Health & Fitness

Mobility Matters

One of the most common mistakes I see people making in their exercise routine is a lack of flexibility and mobility work.  Flexibility and mobility are absolutely essential if you are to achieve your desired results long term.  This article will outline why it is so important, and then some really basic moves you can do to improve yourself. 

Why train Mobility?

The first, and most obvious, is to prevent injury.  One of the most frustrating things that can happen to an avid exerciser is injury, either due to overuse, or restriction of movement in a joint, causing over reliance on a muscle.  The result is that despite months and months of hard work, it could all mean nothing once you’re sitting on the sidelines.  Improving mobility in your joints, particularly key joints hips, knees and shoulders, will assist with this.

The second important reason is to increase your output.  No matter what your goal, you always want to perform exercises through the full range of motion.  Take squats for example – if your goal is hypertrophy, then full range, deep squats use more muscles, develop more strength and create higher amounts of human growth hormone, compared to the traditional parallel squat.  If your goal is weight loss, it’s a very simple equation; the bigger the exercise, the longer the range of motion (ROM), the more calories you burn.  To improve the squat for instance, you need to work on hip, quad and knee mobility, as well as lesser thought of thoracic spine.

Relating to this is not only the ability to perform further ROM, but to perform with a heavier load.  When your muscles are perfectly balanced and mobile enough to perform movements in correct position, you can put greater load on the muscle, therefore resulting in better gains, be they hypertrophy or caloric burn.  In the example of shoulder press / jerk, with poor thoracic spine mobility, the exerciser is likely to press the bar up and slightly out in front of the forehead, which places enormous stress on the front of the shoulder, resulting in rotator cuff injuries.  Correct thoracic spine and shoulder mobility will see the bar pressed directly above the ears, meaning load is placed on the core of the body, down through the hips and into the heels, allowing for much more weight to be lifted, and placing you in a much safer position.

How to Increase Mobility?

The most common areas people need to mobilise are those that lock up in our day to day life of sitting in front of a computer / TV.  They are (working from the ground up) Thighs, hips, thoracic spine, chest and shoulders.  You’ll notice that I’ve mentioned almost everything!  You may also notice the ones that I’ve missed.   Traditionally people spend too much time stretching small muscles like triceps and calves, and not enough time on large muscles such as quads / glutes and upper back.  You will notice that I’ve also left out lower back.  The reason for this is you often don’t need to increase mobility in the lower back, rather it is the upper (thoracic) region of the spine that needs mobilisation. In fact, you need more stability in your lower back, keeping your spine safe

Added: 20-04-2011