Mobility training is something that a lot of people neglect to incorporate into their program, myself included until recently. Never heard of mobility training before? It’s a dynamic, active stretching routine that is used to increase flexibility and prepare the body for more intense movements. This is something that research is showing should be incorporated into every workout before your lift starts. It has countless benefits for your joints and muscles and doesn’t add a ton of time to your workout routine.
Mobility training is NOT the same as static stretching! Research is mixed on this one, but most shows that static stretching before working out has little to no benefit for you. Static stretching, which means holding one deep stretch for 20-30 seconds at a time, can cause small muscle tears that can actually decrease the power you are able to create for your lifts. It can also dampen nervous system activation to the muscle groups being stretched, which can cause them to feel weak, loose, and unstable. This can decrease your strength during your lifts and because your muscles are unstable, could even lead to injury.
Instead of static stretching before working out, mobility training can be done to effectively warm up and activate certain muscle groups. Mobility is defined as the ability to move a part of your body through full range of motion, while still maintaining control of the movement. The stretching exercises used in mobility training help maintain joint function, promote flexibility, and improve your overall performance.
Mobility is important for everyone’s every day life, not just for those who are lifting heavy in the gym. Many things cause decreased mobility including age, living a sedentary lifestyle, and injuries. Something as simple as sitting at your desk all day at work causes your leg muscles and hip flexors to become tight and stiff, which can lead to pain in your lower back, hips, and knees. By doing mobility training, you are actively opening up those joints and stretching the muscles to avoid the pain associated with these muscles being so tight. By continuing to do mobility training, even when you are feeling better, can help prevent this tightness from reoccurring therefore preventing the pain and keeping you moving!
Not only is this training a great way to warm up, prevent injury, and improve flexibility, but it also doesn’t take that long to do. One of the top reasons why you often hear people say they don’t stretch or warm up before working out is because they don’t have enough time. Your mobility routine can be as short as 5 minutes and with all the benefits involved, it is definitely not something to skip. It can be as simple as three different movements performed for 2-3 sets that are specific for the body part you are working out.
Mobility training helps ensure your muscles are ready to work and that your joints are not stiff. It also helps improve flexibility and prevent injury that could hinder your training and progress. While it may seem like “one extra thing” you have to do at the gym, taking the few minutes to get your body moving could be the “one extra thing” your workout is missing!
Image by: Eric Wainwright. Wainwright Images. 2016.