The most effective methods for improving mobility are up for debate, but this much is certain: possessing adequate mobility throughout the body is extremely important to your health, fitness, and longevity! Functional Range Conditioning developer Dr. Andreo Spina defines mobility as “the ability to actively achieve a range of motion.” It requires flexibility as well as strength and control within those accessible ranges.
Poor mobility can result in the following:
• Increased injury risk
• Increased pain and stiffness
• Poor coordination
• Accelerated joint degradation
The human body is amazingly efficient; if we do not continue to use certain ranges of motion, the body will not spend resources to keep those ranges. Our bodies are constantly remodeling, and movement dictates how our cells will lay down new tissue. Without any significant input from our movement, we are eventually left with tissue that is stiff and immobile. It is far more difficult and time consuming to regain mobility than it is to maintain.
Here are some strategies you can adopt right now to positively affect your mobility:
• Perform CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations) every day. Slowly rotate your major joints (one at a time) in a controlled manner, pushing the outermost pain-free range of motion.
• Actively move into your stretch. Start with a position that you can achieve on your own to determine an appropriate range of motion. For example: lie down and actively raise your leg as far as you can. This is the angle at which you should begin your stretch. You can gradually increase the range while you breathe deeply.
• Spend more time in a stretch. We often stretch for only 20-30 seconds, which can improve circulation and provide a temporary improvement, but is not very effective for lasting changes. Try progressing to 60 seconds or even two minutes! If the stretch becomes uncomfortable, take a break and repeat to achieve more overall volume.
• Move often. Get up from your desk, chair, or couch and move all parts of your body! If you must sit or stand in one place, learn to fidget! Roll your neck, roll your shoulders, do ankle circles, or even shift your weight side to side.
• Be consistent. Speak with your trainer to help determine your specific mobility priorities and address them every day, even several times per day if possible. Any attention is better than nothing, but you must provide enough of a stimulus to create lasting change within the body.
In short: move often, explore large ranges of motion in a controlled manner, and spend more time stretching. Remember what we said earlier…it is easier to maintain mobility than to regain it, so take a little time each day and do it!