Physical Mobility

One of the most important aspects of physical fitness is that the body must be able to handle what is being done.  Mobility and flexibility are two distinct variations to the same concept.  For the body to be able to handle the work, the joints must be mobile while the muscles must be flexible.  An athlete can be as powerful and as conditioned as they want to be but if their body cannot move properly, then there is no point to it all.  So while building power may be tedious and improving conditioning can be fun, unlocking more mobility and flexibility can be stressful and sometimes even fruitless.  But I am willing to give some of my insights, however flawed they may be.

While it may seem like stretching before and after a tough workout is the best way to improve flexibility, it can be a bit more complicated than that.  Stretching for a warm-up may actually be detrimental as the muscles are generally cold which means that they would be more likely to be strained during the workout.  A better warm-up would include a fair amount of what is known as dynamic stretching, essentially light movements that mimic what work will be done later.  Static stretching, the form of stretching most common and well known, is best saved for the end of the workout where the body gets to cool down.  This cooling down allows the muscles, which are already warm and worked, to loosen up and even lengthen.

While muscles can be warmed up and cooled down, joints are a different story entirely.  It can be difficult to work something that, when injured, takes longer to recover.  There is nothing to stretch in a joint, nothing to strengthen; but there is quite a bit to loosen, or as I like to call it, unlock.  Though there are plenty of different exercises to improve mobility, it is when we are not training that really affects it.  It is natural for the human body to slowly degrade into a kyphotic posture, or a rounding of the back.  This can be corrected with exercises revolving around strengthening the back muscles, stretching the chest and abdomen, and actively opening up the thoracic spine.  But while kyphosis can be a common issue, there are still other issues that affect mobility that need a lot of work to correct.14126653768_e3e3a0a63e_kA good way to improve both mobility and flexibility is to start early and be consistent, just like the other two components of a functional body.  But while power and conditioning are better done in high-intensity, fast-paced movement, mobility is much better targeted with slow, steady evolution.  One of the best forms would be the more holistic practices such as yoga or Pilates.  Not only would these practices help improve flexibility and mobility, but it would also create a stronger core and isometric strength.  Taking classes consistently would guarantee results but can take more time than we have, so my suggestion would be to take certain poses and exercises from these types of practices and utilize them within your workouts just to save some time and energy.

So take the time out of your day to understand where in your body do you lack mobility or flexibility and find the right way to counter it.  In doing so, I am sure that more physical power and maybe even conditioning can be accessed with the unlocking of a more mobile you.

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