33% of injuries and medical costs are associated with musculoskeletal disorders in U.S. Industry (1). So, 1 in 3 of your coworkers will be out of work at some point due to a musculoskeletal injury. What if I told you these types of injuries can be prevented? Mobility training is the answer. Improving your mobility does more than prevent debilitating musculoskeletal injuries, you’ll move better, you’ll feel better, and daily tasks will be easier.
So, how would you describe mobility?
To be technical, mobility can be characterized as the ability of a joint to move through a range of motion without restriction (2). For example, your shoulder is a ball and socket joint, meaning it can move in many different directions. There are muscles, ligaments, and tendons holding that joint in position. If the shoulder is regularly moved through its full range of motion, the joint will stay healthy and mobile. However, if the shoulder stays in one position, is repeatedly moved in the same direction, or moved insufficiently due to injury or other ailments, the shoulder will become stiff and painful, and will not be able to move as freely, aka lack of mobility. Before heading to the gym, think about the types of movements you’re doing during the day. If you are doing a lot of forward movements, like reaching with your arms, try exercises that involve pulling movements rather than pushing.
I still don’t understand why it is important.
Mobility = Longevity
Think of it this way, if you are feeling tightness and pain from normal movements now, imagine where you’ll be in 10 to 20 years. We only have one body and I don’t know about you, but I want to feel awesome in mine as long as possible.
So, how do I improve my mobility?
Simple, you move. You may be thinking, “wait a minute, I do move?” Well, you’ll be surprised to know, on average in America, we sit for 11 hours of our day (3). The worst part? That doesn’t include time spent sleeping. Think about your daily activities, is it the same every day? Are you doing repetitive movements? Do you come home from work and immediately turn the television on?
It’s possibly time to make a change, and start stretching. However, I am not talking about static stretching. You can static stretch all day long, but still have poor mobility. Why? During a static stretch, you hold a position, but don’t move through an entire range of motion. To improve mobility, you will need to go through dynamic movements. This type of stretching takes the joints through their range of motion, but also lubricates the joints and strengthens the muscles. These movements can be performed with most areas of the body. Here are a few quick movements you can do daily to improve your mobility.
- Neck Rolls
Roll your head from chin to shoulder and back the other direction
- Shoulder Rolls
Roll your shoulders up toward your ears and back several times, then up toward your ears and forward several times.
- Spinal Twists
While standing or sitting, rotate your shoulders and chest to one side in a controlled manner, while keeping the lower body facing forward. Try to keep the shoulders down and the back from rounding. Make sure to rotate each direction.
- Leg Swings – Forward and Backward
With one hand on the wall, swing your leg closest to the wall forward and backward without letting the hip rotate towards the wall. Make sure to perform the movement on each leg.
- Leg Swings – Side to Side
With both hands on the wall, swing one leg from side to side in front of the body, without letting the hip rotate with your leg. Make sure to perform the movement on each leg.
- Ankle Rolls
While standing, move one ankle around in a circle, then switch directions. Make sure to perform on both ankles.
You don’t always have to rely on a personal trainer to better your body. Do these 6 simple movements for 10 minutes each day, to make a world of difference not only in your mobility, but your life.
If you still have questions or are ready to create a mobility workout specific to you, consult with a health and fitness professional. A professional can assess what needs to be addressed and create the perfect mobility training program specific to your needs. Thanks for reading, we will catch you next month with more awesome information to support you on your fitness journey!
Lowe, Brian D, et al. “NIOSH Science Blog.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Aug. 2017, blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2012/10/29/joint-pain/.
Davis, Kellie. “Flexibility, Mobility, and Stability: What's the Difference and Why Are They Important?” com, 30 Sept. 2015, www.fix.com/blog/flexibility-mobility-stability/#Sources.
Owen, Neville et al. “Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings12 (2010): 1138–1141. PMC. Web. 24 Aug. 2018.