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Mobility, Pain

The Importance of Improving Your Mobility as You Get Older

By Shannon Cole on Apr 3, 2024 9:00:00 AM
5 Minutes Reading Time


Mobility training doesn’t have the same allure as weightlifting or HIIT does, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. We all want to feel and move better, but I think mobility isn’t practiced enough because there isn’t a big emphasis on it in the fitness world—at least not to the same extent as building muscle and losing weight.

You might think that mobility training is just your traditional way of stretching, where you elongate a specific muscle for an extended period of time, but that just isn’t the case. Mobility targets more of the joint than the muscle, and focuses not just on improving range of motion, but also on the ability to control and stabilize a joint through a greater range of motion.

When working with a new client, improving one’s mobility is one of the first things I focus on. If this is neglected, it makes it much harder for clients to progress to more complicated and compound movements, simply because their joints are preventing them from getting there (despite being physically strong enough to do so).

Mobility is especially important for those who are getting older. Why, you may ask? Well, think about the movement patterns we develop and resort to as we go from home to work to kids’ activities, etc. over the span of years and sometimes decades. We gravitate toward certain postures that may be detrimental to our joint health and muscle activity.

Think of the amount of time we spend in a seated position with rounded shoulders, hunched over a computer or phone. Now more than ever, with today’s societal demands and the amount of technology at our fingertips, it is much harder to keep our bodies mobile.

So, for someone who is older, and either wants to lose weight, gain muscle, or just wants to be generally healthy, taking the time to improve mobility should be near the top of the list.

Benefits of improved mobility include:

  • Greater Ranges of Motion

Do you want to be able to squat lower? Or be able to keep up with your kids and grandkids from the floor to the playground?

Being able to move your joints through a greater range of motion will help you do that. Getting strong and fit is great and all, but if your joint movement is limited, the ability to execute certain activities or positions will be nearly impossible, or uncomfortable.

  • Better Balance 

It’s no surprise that, due to a variety of reasons, balance tends to get worse as we get older. However, studies show that this seems to improve when we work on our mobility. When we exhibit better joint mobility, we also have a greater ability to control our overall movements. This can carry over into how we maintain our balance, walk with better control, or how we recover from slips and falls.

  • Reduced Risk of Injury

Improving mobility comes with many benefits, but one of the most common is the reduction in risk of injury. Try executing an exercise with limited joint motion, and think of how unlikely it would be to actually finish the movement, especially without injury.

One great example is trying to complete a barbell snatch, with limited hip, ankle, and shoulder mobility. There is no way that lift is happening! Muscle and joint imbalances that are not identified and addressed will make executing certain movements much harder, and frankly, much more risky.

Just think, it’s a lot harder to reach your fitness goals when you’re injured.

If you want a structured program to help with your mobility, Mind Pump offers two to choose from: MAPS Prime and MAPS Prime Pro.

For now, here are a couple of my favorite mobility movements you can practice at home:

Hips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uW-9KD5XOM

Shoulders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-5DBgUXX0EBack Pain | Mind Pump Media

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Shannon Cole

Shannon Cole is an ISSA certified personal trainer and lives in the Dallas area. She is a certified nutrition coach through NASM and NCI, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Sports Science and Rehabilitation. After obtaining her B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication she eventually gravitated to personal training, and hasn't turned back since. Her passion for athletics and fitness initially stemmed from her high school years playing golf, and her love for the sport still hasn't faded; her career goal is to obtain her Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) certification and develop strength and conditioning programs for golfers. You can usually find her working out in her garage gym, or training for the next Spartan Race with her husband.

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