The use of mobility training can benefit any type of workout but sadly it is often neglected. So many people are missing out on the benefits of it. With more mobility, you will be less likely to develop chronic injuries or hit plateaus. Mobility is able to remedy existing injuries and can benefit your form and performance. In this post, we look at how to get the best out of your workout by engaging in mobility training.
Before we delve into the many ways mobility training benefits your workout, let’s take a look at what mobility actually means.
What is Mobility?
Most people know about flexibility, and often times will confuse this with mobility. There is actually a difference between the two. Flexibility refers to the ability of your joints to move pain-free and without stiffness through a range of motion. For example, flexibility is when you are able to lift your leg further with the assistance of your arms.
On the other-hand mobility is when you are able to control the whole range of motion with just the muscles. Mobility refers to the strength of the muscle in this range of motion. For example, you would be able to control the entire movement of the leg with just the leg muscles. Unlike flexibility, there is no requirement for any assistance to perform the move.
Now we’ve covered what it is, let’s look at how mobility training benefits your workout.
The Importance of Mobility
Mobility is essential because it prepares your body for the stress of training. It is a vital contributor to reducing the risk of injuries as well as improving your technique and your overall range of movement. It should be noted that strength alone isn’t enough to have good mobility.
Commonly, an individual will walk into the gym, go straight to the resistance area and begin lifting weights. At best, they might engage in a quick 5 minute warm-up on the exercise bike or elliptical trainer. While the warm-should not be neglected, it is the bit in between that warm up and hitting the weights room that is vital. This is where mobility training comes in.
How Mobility Training Benefits Your Workout
1. A More Effective Warmup
Mobility training benefits your workout in different ways that just doing a quick warm-up cannot. During mobility training, blood is actually being moved to the surrounding tissues. Synovial fluid, the fluid in our joints that helps them to glide freely, is carried into the working joints. An example of this would be to perform hip circles to warm up the hips. The blood is transported to the hip flexors, glutes and external rotators, which are the muscles that move the leg. Synovial fluid lubricates the hip in preparation for exercise.
2. Reduced Risk of Injury
One of the biggest benefits to mobility training is the reduced risk of injury. If you are feeling restriction to a moving joint, then there is a high risk of injury, especially if you like to lift heavy.
3. Improved Technique and Range of Movement
Mobility training can also benefit your form. When your muscles and joints are more flexible, then your range of motion will increase. This will allow you to perform exercises with better technique. For example, if we have tight leg muscles, then we will struggle to go lower when doing a squat or perform a deadlift with correct posture.
Having a better technique, especially in such a compound movement, can also reduce injury risk.
Many people tend to believe that performing static stretches can also achieve the above. However, there’s a difference between the effect of static stretching, and how mobility training benefits your workout.
Static Stretching Versus Dynamic Mobility Stretching
For years we have been conditioned to engage in stretching before a workout. And there is a reason why, because there are numerous benefits to stretching. It can prevent injury, decrease soreness, and improve overall performance. Even though it is common to incorporate static stretching into your fitness routine. However, dynamic stretches – part of mobility training – are not as widely used.
It should be noted that dynamic stretching, or stretching while moving, appears to be more effective than static stretching as part of your warm-up. Below we discuss the mobility training benefits of dynamic stretching in comparison to static stretching.
Static stretching usually consists of holding positions with no movement. During this time you are likely to only focus on the main muscle groups, like your quads, hamstrings, calf and arm muscles. While they are useful in increasing range of motion if performed correctly and for long enough, they can, in fact, be detrimental as part of a warm-up. For example, static stretches are linked to a decrease in leg press performance and knee extensor concentric torque.
Sadly static stretches appear to actually decrease muscle-force production capacity. This loss of strength and performance has been named “stretch-induced strength loss”. Static stretches, therefore, shouldn’t be part of a warm-up. Instead, they should be and performed in the cool-down. They also need to be held for long enough (30+ seconds) to be beneficial. Unfortunately, it is easy to rush through static stretching without proper form. This is not so much the case for dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, are often a static stretch but performed with movement. Doing these results in many mobility training benefits. For example, dynamic stretches help keep your heart rate higher than static ones. This is vital during and after a warm-up, and better suited to sports that require running or jumping. An example of a dynamic stretch would be a set of walking lunges, instead of a static lunge forward. This being said, you need to ensure that you perform enough dynamic stretches, with the right quality.
Now we have discussed the numerous ways mobility training benefits you, let’s look at how to do it.
Types of Mobility Training Exercise
There are many ways to reap the mobility training benefits that we listed above. Mobility exercises can take on many forms. For example, some can easily be done with only your bodyweight, whereas others use various types of equipment. This might include resistance bands, foam rollers, barbells or poles.
Using your bodyweight is a wise place to start when starting mobility workouts. Most exercises have regressions for those just beginning, and the same applies to mobility. There are also progressions if you are more advanced. If you’re just beginning, keep in mind that these mobility drills will get easier with practice and patience.
Here is a list of some body weight and floor drills that you can do in the gym or at home.:
- Thoracic Spine Windmills
- Should Pass Throughs
- Hip Openers
- Spiderman Walks
- Deep Squat
Many mobility training benefits can come from foam rolling. It is common for people to shy away from foam rolling because it can be painful. Unfortunately, if this is painful then it is probably a sign that you need to do more foam rolling. Also, it is common to speed through foam rolling. You need to take your time because the foam roller needs to move slowly over your muscles, while using as much of your body weight as possible to increase the tension.
Resistance Bands, Poles and Barbells
Resistance bands, as well as poles and barbells, are a fantastic way to get the mobility training benefits that bodyweight stretching is not able to achieve. When performed correctly, this equipment will allow you to take the muscles to a much greater stretch.
As mentioned, for those just starting out, try bodyweight drills first.
There are numerous benefits to mobility training in and outside of the gym. Doing mobility exercises as part of your warm-up can help to reduce your risk of injury as well as increase your strength and power. As Keep in mind that better mobility results in better technique. Dedicating 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your session to mobility training is all it takes to reap these benefits.
It’s important to note the difference between static stretching and dynamic mobility training. Even though static stretches are vital at improving flexibility, they can also reduce your performance when done during a warm-up. You should save static stretching for the cool-down after a workout. Engage in dynamic stretches before your workout session with mobility exercises added in for optimal results
Have questions or concerns? Call Kurt Waples from Bluestone Health Group. Contact us to schedule an appointment by clicking this link or calling (203) 220-6488