Mobility: Improve joint movement (the ones that are supposed to move), by K.N.*
The aim for all of us is to be able to move freely with as little stiffness as possible. That been said we all have some limitations every now and then regarding our freedom of movement. Defining further in our discussion the concept of mobility, which is the ability of certain joints to move in a per classification range of motion (ROM). Joints – according to their structural or functional classification – move accordingly, allowing us to enter various positions, performing dynamic or isometric actions. Lack of mobility in the diarthrotic joints (the freely movable ones), will give you a stiff muscle/joint status, which can be considered as a muscle fiber shortening on a daily basis.
Skip reading further if you don’t want to know why mobility will help, you and start your mobility routine right away, by viewing the video here. Or continue reading to learn more.
Mobility of joints provides a comfortable articulation of two bones at a certain location (i.e. knee, elbow, shoulder, spine…), having enough support by tendons, muscles and ligaments, for obvious reasons. When a severe limitation in mobility occurs, the individual will have a harder time performing efficiently in sports, but most importantly in daily tasks, and it will not take long until discomfort and then pain to arise. The cause that produces these symptoms of stiffness can be (not exclusively) the prolonged seated or sleeping position and the lack of regular and systematic movement of joints in a regimented schedule. After all, in our modern day era sitting in front of a computer screen, or at office chairs in meetings, or browsing through our mobile phone screen with a prolonged neck flexion, is the norm for the majority of people. This will definitely exacerbate the problem of joint stiffness, and even though aerobic or strength training activity occurs weekly in some of us, it is not enough to fully reverse the situation.
On a daily basis we need to spend time “unlocking” our joints with care and affection. The joints have a space between them called the joint cavity, ( filled with a lubricating fluid ), they are a delicate area but at the same time durable enough to last for many decades before serious wear and tear occurs.
Try to distinguish between static stretching, and dynamic free range of motion in joint areas. Getting in a position or a “pose” for two minutes with a purpose to aid flexibility is not exactly what we are after. Understand that the nerves and muscles and ligaments and bones all work in a well-orchestrated accord to allow you free and uninhibited movement, or can be called flexibility. That movement sometimes needs to bear an external load and that adds complexity in the activity, something that we will not explore further here but in another article.
Have a look at these concepts in the spectrum below, moving chronologically from left to right, and try to picture what each one is all about, what is it’s relevance with your current fitness.
Mobility – Stability – Muscular Endurance- Strength- Power
If you have spent the required time in the mobility area and move freely, then you are ready to proceed to more stabilizing moves (i.e but not exclusively proprioception exercises) ensuring that the major areas of the body can tackle some isometric load for a certain duration, and due to the right amount of ROM do not rebel. Stabilizing muscles moving freely when called upon are able to hold certain joints stable without “flaring” and wobbling showing adequate strength. Build Muscular Endurance, and you are ready to move on to strength oriented moves (namely resistance training). The scope of this article though is not to dive deep into the above concepts in order, but to highlight the value and importance of mobility in our life, and what can follow in the continuum. In this article we are scraping the surface for the above concepts just to comprehend the continuum and timing of each one. In closing and as an example it will not be wise to dive first hand in to strength training if you have zero mobility and you are stiff as a mule.
The moment we decide that our body needs this systematic “unlocking” the path is clear with mobility routines that are designed by professionals for an immediate upgrade. You are lucky enough to have read through this article, reached this paragraph, and in a position to benefit by enjoying for FREE this mobility routine, and movements shown here in this video.
Be “mobile” and stay active!
*Kypros Nicolaou is an Exercise Physiologist, graduate of the University of Alabama, an ACSM certified Health & Fitness Instructor, holds an ITU Level II Certification as a Triathlon Coach, and is a multiple Ironman & Half Ironman Triathlon finisher. He is coaching Triathletes online, teaches Functional Training at f/3dfts, and performs Exercise Physiology assessments at the Cyprus Sports & Research Center. e –firstname.lastname@example.org