Flexibility is defined as "the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion", whereas mobility is the "ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion". ... It is not only the muscles stretching over a joint but also how far the joint moves within the joint capsule.
That’s pretty cool stuff to me, and it’s been the cornerstone of my movement practice and area of study as I coach my students and clients. For those who have taken my Wednesday evening Strong45, you know this about me, and I bet a few of them will back me up here when I say Mobility and Flexibility are the ‘magic pill’ to making you feel more capable and confident in and out of class!
Getting your joints primed and ready for movement goes a long way in preventing injury and helping you enjoy whatever physical activity you are getting ready to perform. From tennis to dancing and cycling to lifting weights, not to mention all the daily tasks of walking, sitting, lifting, bending and twisting we do, getting your body ready to move is vital to maintaining your current abilities and definitely to make improvements in ‘performance’. Mobility work will check the edges of your ability to move without pain or impingement, and get your brain and body plugged in and working together.
Getting properly mobilized is different from just ‘warming up’, although you will definitely get warm. Mobilizing joints and practicing smaller movement patterns create a foundation to build bigger, stronger, more intense and complex movements. Just like walking before you run, you have to roll and crawl before you walk! It’s also a perfect way to build your strategy for learning new movements.
Speaking of new moves: I am excited to bring a new class to the club that takes ‘Clubbells’ onto the training floor for a more dynamic and higher intensity class. Stay tuned for more information on Clubbells - an ‘Ancient Tool for the Modern Athlete’
In the meantime, try something new! Give yourself 5 minutes to perform these 5 mobility practices 5 times each once or twice a day and see how you feel in a week. Take each move slowly and in total control (Tip: Imagine you are playing Red Light Green Light and someone might say Red Light at any point in your move). Find your edge: you should not feel pain but it should feel uncomfortable - and remember to breathe evenly and deeply through the move.
1. Big, Sloooow Arm circles perpendicular to a wall - 10 seconds per circle! 5 one way, 5 the other way, then switch sides.
2. Shoulder Screws - Keep the arms parallel to the ground and reaching out as you roll one shoulder forward and then back. 5 one arm, 5 the other then 5 together.
3. Segmented Cat/Cow - Seated or in Quadruped (on hands and knees) - 5 times: cave and expand the chest ONLY, leaving hips neutral, then 5 times: rock the hips forward and then back keeping shoulders and arms neutral/straight, then...
4. Spinal Waves -5 times in the same position as cat/cow, Roll under from tail to top, then unroll from tail to top, then 5 times Roll from top to tail and then unroll from top to tail.
5. Hurdlers - rotate one hip/knee/leg externally, then pivot on your toe to rotate hip/knee/leg internally (option to lift the leg as you rotate, like you are stepping over a fence). 5 times on each leg.