How and Why to Do Mobility Training
Mobility refers to how freely and easily you can move your body. It can affect everything from your ability to hike and run to how easily you can get out of bed. We live in a time where most people spend more hours a day sitting at a desk than outside doing functional movements like squatting and walking.
This change is becoming obvious in the number of people suffering from aches and pains and will continue to have more adverse effects as people age. Mobility training is a form of movement that works to improve both balance and flexibility and can reverse many of the effects of a more sedentary lifestyle. In this article, we will share practical tips for how to include it in your training routine.
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What is Mobility Training?
Mobility training is a combination of exercises designed to increase muscle fiber length, strength, and range of motion through the joints, all of which contribute to greater stability and balance throughout the body.
Regularly doing functional mobility training is an essential part of any workout routine.
Anyone who practices regular physical activity, whether lifting weights or going for hikes, should do a combination of strength and mobility training. Both are essential for flexibility and keeping the body free of aches and pains.
Why is Mobility Important?
Whether or not you’re physically active, mobility affects each of us. Being immobile limits your ability to move freely throughout your day, and experiencing pain when you move can severely impact your quality of life. There is truth behind the saying ‘move it or lose it,’ as staying physically active and focusing on mobility workouts can help you maintain many of your favorite physical activities as you age.
The benefits of mobility training can be even more impactful for anyone doing regular strength training. Improving your range of motion (ROM) can significantly affect form and posture, especially for exercises like squats requiring a deep hip hinge and a lengthening through the hamstring muscles. Increased mobility can decrease your risk of injury and prevent muscle imbalance, allowing you to enjoy your strength training practice for years to come.
The number of mobility workouts you do per week should equal your strength training sessions. An easy way to make this happen is to pencil in 5-10 minutes of stretching after every workout.
If you take a one or two week break for recovery, don’t stress, the effects of increased mobility are proven to last up to six months post-stretch. Just make sure to return to your usual mobility workout routine as soon as possible.
Is Mobility Training the Same As Yoga?
Although yoga and mobility training have a lot of similarities, they also have a lot of differences.
Most notably, yoga is a spiritual practice that isn’t solely focused on the body. Yoga works with a combination of breathwork, asanas — the poses themselves — and meditation, while workouts for mobility focus solely on creating physical improvements.
You will notice many of the same stretches are used in yoga and mobility workouts, and if you’re looking for mobility training for beginners, yoga is a great place to start.
But it’s important to remember that a 10-minute mobility workout routine isn’t necessarily considered yoga.
What Are the Examples of Mobility Training?
Flexibility and mobility training isn’t as complicated as it might sound. It can be as simple as combining 5 – 10 passive and dynamic stretches designed to increase mobility through the joints and lengthen muscle fibers.
In the next section, you’ll find five poses that, when combined, could be used as a full-body mobility routine.
What Is the Best Mobility Exercise?
Regarding mobility training exercises, there is no single best movement. Instead, it’s a good idea to include a variety of poses — like the ones below — that can help to stretch and strengthen every major muscle group. Though including more stretches for the lower body will be useful for runners and cyclists who will likely experience more tightness in this area.
If you focus on shoulder mobility after an upper body workout, try switching up your next leg day to include hip mobility training. This combination is the best way to encourage free movement throughout your entire body.
Also known as lateral lunges, this exercise is great for strengthening the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, and can help to develop more stability and strength.
This bridge variation provides an opening through all of the muscles in the front of the body while also strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, and arms.
Pigeon pose stretch
This stretch is ideal for opening through the hip flexors and can help to stretch the muscles in the lower back.
Spinal twist stretch
Twists help to lengthen a surprising amount of muscles, including the glutes, abs, back, chest, shoulders, and neck. It also promotes mobility through the spine.
Low plank to dolphin
This pose can help to strengthen most major muscle groups, including the arms, abs, shoulders, and legs. It is also great for improving active flexibility through the shoulders.
Mobility training is a combination of movements and stretches designed to increase the range of motion through your joints and keep muscle fibers long and loose. By including mobility exercises in your workout routine, you can improve your lifting form, prevent muscle imbalances, and reduce your likelihood of injury. Regular mobility workouts can also help you enjoy more of the physical activities you love as you age.