In the article Mobility and Stability Are The Keys To Improving Movement Efficiency we learned that Mobility is how well a joint can move, while stability is the ability to maintain control of joint movement. Mobility is key for moving better, and moving better is key for feeling better.
Many things can limit mobility resulting in less than desired movement and performance:
- Soft tissue restriction.
- Shortened and tight muscles (tissue elasticity).
- Joint range of motion dysfunction.
- Motor control problems.
- Postural misalignment.
- Muscle imbalances.
- Neural dynamic issues.
While this list can be daunting, many of the techniques to improve mobility will fix the most common problems. If the basic corrections fail to improve mobility, or discomfort worsens, a comprehensive assessment by a specialist is encouraged. Specialists will likely prescribe a follow up regiment of soft tissue mobilization, dynamic and static stretches and/or self mobilization to reinforce the manual work.
Remember it took time for the dysfunctions to build up, so reversing the damage will take time as well. But a few proactive minutes every day addressing problem areas, can improve movement efficiency, speed recovery, and improve sports performance and make moving feel good.
If you lack adequate mobility, you could be the Incredible Hulk and still find it difficult to do basic body movements like bending over to tie a shoe or put your pants on.
Movement is Medicine
Kelly Starrett, a Physical Therapist, CrossFit Gym Owner, and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard writes “we believe that much of the orthopedic dysfunction we encounter in our physiotherapy and human performance coaching practice results from people either not having a movement practice or exercising like fiends in poor positions and in narrow exercise ranges”.
The other area I see mobility issues is in people who are busy with their life, and do not spend enough time moving. Sitting at a computer for eight hours a day will shorten muscles, cause restrictions, and even cause muscle imbalances if poor posture remains the position of preference.
Establishing a daily personal movement practice will greatly improve our mobility. The three most pertinent areas we can work on include:
- Loosening soft tissue restrictions with Self-Myofascial Release (SMR).
- Addressing shortened and tight muscles (tissue elasticity) by stretching.
- Improving joint range of motion (ROM).
Stay tuned, we will break these areas into three separate articles in the near future.