A lot of what I know has come from my own personal experience, I had poor posture; rounded shoulders, tight hips, lazy glutes, my inner core wasn’t functioning like it should, I also had poor digestion and irregular bowel movements, I had the whole shebang!
It has taken me years to improve all of these things and it’s a journey that will never end but the way I feel and look has improved tenfold. I move better, I have more energy, more clarity, more confidence and more self-belief than ever before, something that I have struggled with growing up.
I probably could have gotten these results much faster if someone told me exactly what to do but going through the process myself, using my body almost as an experiment I have learnt a tonne. I am extremely grateful for this because it has now given me the opportunity to help others in similar situations.
One the thing I really want you to get from this article is that it doesn’t matter where you currently are, start your movement journey now. Start learning and more importantly start moving and exploring more because improving mobility through movement has the potential to greatly improve your quality of life, it’s done it for me and it can do it for you too.
Most people think that mobility is the same as flexibility and that isn’t the case, mobility is a combination of flexibility and strength. Just focusing on flexibility is what will generally lead to poor performance and injuries. What we want is to develop strength through a full range of motion allowing us to use that range in a functional manner, accessible at any time.
In most cases people who are immobile are tight because they are weak, I don’t want to be blunt but that’s the truth, the muscles tighten and restrict the range of motion to protect the joint because of a lack of stability and strength.
So developing strength in the end ranges of our joints is the key to improving our mobility. We need to load the muscle through our body weight and small weights to achieve the adaptation that we want.
Now why would we want to go through all that hard work and improve our mobility instead of doing all cool stuff like lifting heavy stuff?
I get it, that’s a fair question but developing strength without mobility will only lead to a dysfunctional body, the same goes for developing mobility without strength, you will eventually pay the price. Below I talk about two powerful reasons why improving mobility is a must.
Be aware that there is always to sides to a coin, there are some people who actually don’t need to work on their mobility as they may naturally be hypermobile. Being hypermobile can also increase the chance of injury if strength has not been developed in those end ranges creating instability in the joint.
In this case this individual needs to focus on stability work. Developing strength in their core & glutes to stabilise the pelvis and everything that retracts the shoulder will be the key for this kind of person to reach their potential.
1. Movement Efficiency
With Mobility comes movement efficiency and things that also fall under this umbrella are injury prevention and athletic performance. When our muscles have the right length-tension relationship our joints will have a full range of motion allowing our body to perform at its potential. Just by improving mobility it will make you stronger, run faster and jump higher.
When a joint is restricted due to tight muscles the body compensates creating inefficiency and certain muscles become over worked creating an imbalance. An example of this is someone who has tight hip flexors, the hips are not able to fully extend and the activation from the posterior chain is limited.
This person is known as a quad dominant athlete meaning that instead of their powerful glutes and hamstrings doing what they are supposed to, the quads take over and take the load. This is what leads to poor performance and eventually injuries.
So part of the solution is to not only improve mobility but re-teach our body how to move correctly and learn to switch certain muscles back on.
In terms of athletic performance and developing explosiveness mobility is the key. When you shoot a rubber band the further you pull it, the more tension there is, and the farther it shoots.
Same goes for our joints, the greater the range of motion, the more tension is created in the muscle and therefore the more power we are able to generate.
2. Improves Your Physiology = Better Health
Something that doesn’t get talked about much is the effect that poor mobility has on the body and our health. Moving our joints full a full range of motion on a regular basis is essential to our health.
When we move and our joints are used there is a lot happening on a much deeper level, fluid is pumped, nerves are compressed and blood circulates all these things are necessary for the health of our body. Healthy body, healthy mind, you can’t have one without the other.
The effects of being tight and immobile have much bigger implications than what most people think. When we have tight shoulders and chest muscles it actually affects the way we breathe, we breathe shallow.
Most people are unaware of the importance and power that our breathe has on our body and mind, it has been understood for thousands of years that to control your breathe is to control your body & mind. Yet we have moved away from this and our health both mental and physical has paid the price.
When we breathe shallow into our lungs it actually tricks our body into thinking we are in danger and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the release of our stress hormones.
Whereas, if we are able to breath deep into our diaphragm it’s our rest and digest mechanisms that are stimulated which is the key to improving our health. That right there has the potential to transform your life.
The same goes for having tight hips, it makes it harder to breathe from the diaphragm which is essential for our health and it also effects our digestion and elimination of our food as we are fixed in a flexed position compressing our organs. Over time this compression will lead to poor digestion and bowel movements.
So by improving mobility we can begin to breathe deeper, digest our food better and have better bowel movements, all these things are the foundation of our health. Now I’m not saying if you improve mobility all your problems will be solved but it’s one big piece to the puzzle that will help improve your quality of life.
If you do mobility right its hard work, passive stretching and foam rolling just doesn’t get the job done, they have their place but in terms of long lasting results it’s not what you want to be focusing all your energy on. So if you want to move better and improve your health working on your mobility will help get you there.
If you break through the initial barrier of resistance towards movement I promise you will begin to enjoy it and eventually you will not have to force yourself to do it, just keep at it.