Do you brush your teeth every day? It’s not especially exciting, but I’d wager you do it because you know it will prevent disease and decay. What if I told you that investing 10-15 min/day in mobility training could eventually mean the difference between your basic independence or relying on help to get out of bed, dress, and perform simple tasks?
What is mobility?
In a nutshell, your “mobility” refers to the range of motion of your joints, and your ability to move through your full range of motion with strength and efficiency. Most of us are lucky enough to be born with optimal range of motion (remember sitting in a deep squat position when you were a kid, or being able to run and jump all day with no pain?).
Over time, our joints have become tight, inhibited or “sticky” as a result of environmental stressors, poor posture, compromised movement and time spent sitting. The tissues of your body actually adapt to the position in which you spend most of your time. So, for example, if you spend hours every day sitting, the likely result is tight and shortened hip flexors, elongated glutes and weakened hamstrings. Add to the mix a slightly hunched position that most of us slip into when we’re focused on a computer or phone screen, and the eventual result is tight, shortened chest muscles and elongated, weakened upper back muscles.
What can I do about it?
The good news is that we can use our body’s incredible adaptive ability to our advantage. A regular routine of mobility exercises can undo years of damage. You know the old saying “use it or lose it”? We all could benefit from thinking about our mobility, or ability to move, in that way. Perhaps “move it or lose it” would be more appropriate. If you spend most of your days only using 60% of your hip joint’s full range of motion, that joint will gradually develop a stiffness in function anytime you try to move it beyond its accustomed 60%.
A regular practice of mobility work (just 10-15 minutes per day) is all you need to start restoring optimal function to your joints. (Please note, mobility work is different from stretching. Keep an eye out for the next post, which will explain the difference.) Our workshops teach the simple, effective and therapeutic movements proven to open up your range of motion, thereby resolving pain, preventing injury, and increasing performance. If you’re eager to start on some serious hip, knee and ankle mobility right now, give the deep squat a try. Position yourself in front of a doorframe, countertop, pillar, or other sturdy structure that you can hold onto as you sink your butt towards the ground. Keep your heels flat on the floor and track your knees back above your ankles (not dipping forward and inward). Shift your weight back onto your heels (not the balls of your feet) and make sure your spine isn’t rounded forward. You can use whatever you’re holding onto to keep your spine in a neutral position. Take some deep breaths and try to relax into the position. Stick with it and your body will thank you!