Do you think your workout plan is effective? Are you still prone to nagging daily aches and pains? Mobility and flexibility are commonly overlooked exercise components. These are the last aspects people think of in their workout routine, when really they should be the first things entering your mind before initiating an exercise plan.
The bottom line is: we need to move better. Life’s stresses put our bodies into postures susceptible to injuries. Before we dive into this in greater detail we need to fully understand what flexibility and mobility is.
Flexibility refers to the extensibility of the muscles, tendons and fascia.
Mobility refers to the amount of motion that is easily attainable with the particular joint, and the ease of moving that joint through it’s full range of motion.
For example, sitting has significant effects on our posture, muscles and joints, especially on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles. The shoulders tend go into internal rotation, rolling in towards the front of the body the longer we sit and work. As a result, we spend less time moving our shoulder joint through the opposite motion in external rotation (think of reaching to scratch your back). Consequently, our posture is seriously affected as we restrain our shoulders’ ability to properly move through the full range of motion that it was intended to.
Now imagine you’re working out or playing a sport that requires you to use your shoulder joint, you try to move it through it’s full range. However, you may find that because it’s been in the same posture for so long, taking it through this greater range of motion can actually cause injury. You may experience pain as you force your shoulder into a movement it is not accustomed to.
Now let’s take a look at the surrounding muscles, specifically the chest or the pecs. When the shoulder is internally rotated the pecs are in a shortened state. They become tight, losing their extensibility and contributing to the internal rotation of the shoulder. So now you have a shoulder that’s stuck in internal rotation, and surrounding muscles that are tight and further restricting the range of that joint. With time, you will have developed the commonplace appearance of a rolled back and caved chest.
But hope is not lost! We need to learn to take our joints through their full range of motion daily.
Your muscles need to be able to fully extend and contract in order to take your joints through wider motions. Working towards and maintaining full extensibility is of utmost importance in order to take joints through different movements. Working on both muscle flexibility and joint mobility will assist you in regaining your full range of motion, as well as decreasing lower back pain, shoulder tension, and the likelihood of injury.
So don’t forget to move more often, stretch and TRAINSMART!