Mobility is something most adults need to work on. Physical activity and mobility is a fundamental part of life. However, modern life provides very limited movement. In the past, movement was necessary for survival. Today, for some of us, movement would not be a goal in itself; even to satisfy our basic needs, movement is hardly necessary anymore. Even if you come in to the gym to train regularly, that is only one hour of the day that you are moving your joints in more varied patterns and through a wider range of motion.
The human body needs physical exercise to function healthily and psychological well-being increases if our body is sufficiently exercised. If you neglect overall mobility it can lead to a variety of issues including pain, injury and limited activity choices later in life. To help I’ve complied some simple mobility tips for you.
The good news is, mobility work can easily be incorporated more frequently into your day and it will feel amazing and add quality to your life.
Mobility isn’t just trying to touch your toes.
Hanging out at the bottom of your squat and prying the knees open with the elbows, tactical frog, even walking knees, all help to open up your hips. Anything that is difficult for you in the warmup period of class is probably something that you need to do more of.
In Strength and Conditioning we work with the lacrosse balls as well. So even if you haven’t learned the full repertoire from Tune-Up you can at least hit a couple trigger points. Something is better than nothing. Spend even five minutes a day doing what you know and you will feel changes.
How to improve mobility
There are techniques to improve your mobility that use tools and some that don’t. My two favorite at home tools are a foam roller and a lacrosse ball. They are a small investment that reap big benefits. If you are feeling stiff, sore, or tight just hop on the foam roller. It is very intuitive. Roll where you feel you need it. It may be uncomfortable, but you will feel better after! Try to roll laterally across muscles, not just up and down vertically. Going laterally “against the grain” will help to relieve tightness better and help muscles stay healthy.
I love the lacrosse ball because it is very precise, and also super portable. If my shoulders and upper back are bothering me, which they usually are, I can spend a few minutes on the ground with a ball and get back up feeling like I have new joints. I have to do it regularly, because my daily activities cause everything to tighten up again, but if I keep my maintenance up I feel so much better. The ball is also great for travel. I usually fly with one because it takes so little space in my suitcase. And after sitting on the plane it hurts so good to lay with the ball smashed on my TFL (tensor fasciae latae).
There is plenty more mobility work you can do in your daily life that doesn’t involve tools. Again, think about the warmups and cool downs in class. Even shadowboxing will give you the double benefit of improving your Muay Thai technique, while helping your joints find some flow. Also, just move more during the day. The advice to take the stairs or walk instead of drive benefits your mobility as well. What is better for your joints, muscles, and connective tissue; to stand still in an elevator or sit still driving, or to move your whole body?
Movement is more than just exercise, it’s creating correct movement patterns through specific mobility drills and correctives that we can teach you. Just make sure you aren’t looking down at your phone while you are doing them on your own!
We spend a lot of time on computers, both for work and for entertainment. It is really hard on the body to sit all day. Especially because it is so easy to let our bodies fall out of alignment while we are working on screens. Try to vary your position. Sit in a chair sometimes.
Stand up. Sit on the floor. Lay down on the floor. (Maybe not at work, unless you have a job like I do where I spend a good part of the day on or near the ground!) Also, spend some time squatting. If you have to pick something up off the floor, squat down to get it instead of folding at the waist with a round back. Or stay in a squatting position while you are playing with your kid or pet.
This may not all sound like what you would expect from mobility training, but mobility is just referring to your ability to move a joint through its range of motion. So the more time you spend doing that, and the less time you spend in a static position is beneficial to your mobility.