Being mobile enough is extremely important. It prevents injuries, fixes muscle imbalances, and even helps you build more muscle.
I say mobile enough, because there is a bit of a mobility epidemic in the fitness space.
People get too caught up in mobility work, and forget that actually training is what creates changes in your body. Mobility is important, but you probably don’t need to spend more time on your mobility than your actual workout.
Mobility legend Kelly Starrett defines mobility as: “a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems”.
Basically, mobility work allows you to move better (think: squat deeper). It’s useful for preventing and reducing pain caused by movements.
Mobility work can be made up of:
- Soft tissue work. Usually self-myofascial release work. (i.e. foam rolling tight muscles.)
- Joint mobilization. Great article on dynamic joint mobility: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/dynamic-joint-mobility
Mobility is extremely important for…
Injury Prevention. This is where lack of mobility kills most people.
That nagging low back pain when you squat? It could probably be fixed with some mobility work for your tight hips.
Nagging pain usually turns into an injury when ignored for to long.
Tightness and lack of mobility can keep you from performing movements correctly, and even from being able to activate the right muscle groups. This leads to muscular imbalances, and again, injury.
Building More Muscle. Mobility increases the range of motion you can use when working out. Taking an exercise through a greater range of motion means you get more out of every rep.
Say you add three inches to your squat depth, but weight stays the same. You’re getting much more muscle building effect out of every squat rep, even though the weight stayed the same.
Better Quality Of Life. Better mobility means you’re moving pain-free, not just in the gym, but in your day-to-day life as well.
You don’t have trouble squatting to pick your kids toys up off the floor, or reaching overhead to put something on the shelf.
As you age, maintaining good mobility is key to being able to move and do what you want without restrictions.
For more about what to do for your mobility work, I highly recommend checking out Kelly Starrett’s work at https://www.mobilitywod.com/