As we age, physical activities become more difficult. We devote less time to taking care of ourselves, and the time we do spend is certainly not spent getting mobile.
A sedentary lifestyle starts catching up to us. Poor Posture x Poor Movement = Pain. Most of us aren’t at risk of overtraining, but at risk of training (i.e. moving) incorrectly or inefficiently. If you have trouble stretching to touch your toes, that’s a problem. But simply thinking that trying to touch your toes counts as mobility is an even bigger problem.
Mobility includes several aspects of what you might consider “warm-up.” Stretching (both static and dynamic, soft-tissue work (self-myofascial release “SMR”), and joint mobilization are all key players in a well-rounded routine.
I always find it helpful to keep this thought in mind: “The basics of life require movement.”
The “basics” of my life include running, yoga, training, swimming, biking, rock climbing, doing gymnastics, mountain biking, surfing, and any other downhill, gravity-aided sport.
The “basics” of your life may include some of the above, or they might be just being able to lift your carry-on into the overhead bin without shoulder pain. Carry a set of golf clubs (or simply play) 18-holes free of low back pain? Personally, I hope to be enjoying golf well into my 90’s. I’d like to live to be 150 years old, and to do that, I must hold mobility at the forefront of my physical activity.
Mobility helps me do whatever it is I want to do, better. Better body control, strength, and body awareness translates in any sport, whether that be for an NFL player on Sunday or for the championship of your intramural basketball league.
There are a lot of “all or nothing” people in the health industry, myself included. I push my body to the limit, often times without a plan to recover from the stress I place on it.
Recovery is just as important to your training regimen as the work is.
If you work so hard (without recovery) that it puts you out of commission, or causes you sub-optimal performance, for your next workout, you’ve failed. The first step is identifying the tools and tricks to help you mobilize and recover.
At our first Influencer Retreat in El Salvador, we led serial travelers and adventurers through a movement and mobility workshop using Hyperice tools, such as the Hypersphere (side note: this vibrating massage ball changed my running life forever).
This is a sample from the workshop geared towards pre and post-flight travel. We started with a stretch and asked each participant to take note of where they felt restriction, pain, or lack of mobility. We performed two sets of a test-retest format, with the soft-tissue release in the middle. We then moved to dynamic movement, with stretching and activations.
SMR (Soft-Tissue): 15 minutes
Test Posture: Figure-4 Stretch
SMR Release: Hypersphere - Piriformis, TFL
Re-test Posture: Figure-4 Stretch
SMR Release: Hypersphere - Calves
Test Posture: Shoulder Sweeps
SMR Release: Lats
Re-Teset Posture: Shoulder Sweeps
Dynamic Stretch & Activation: 10 minutes
- T-Spine Twists
- Glute Bridges
- Cat & Cow with T-Spine Rotations
- 3D Hip Clock
- World’s Greatest Stretch
- Forward Fold to Mountain Pose
- Walkouts with Forearm Plank
So what are the benefits of mobility work?
- Injury prevention
- Faster recovery time from training
- Increased range of motion
- Pain-free lifestyle
- Increased flexibility
- Longevity to our movement (I want to be able to lift up my grandkids, not have them need to lift me up…)
- Better mind/body connection
How often should you implement mobility work?
The answer to this is daily. Stretching and soft-tissue work respond to long-term consistency with low intensity, meaning 15 minutes a day is better than two hours at at time, once a month. Try starting up your vibrating foam roller while watching your favorite TV show at night (pro tip: foam-rolling before bed can help activate your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you to relax and fall asleep more quickly)
Add mobility into your routine, and watch your strength, speed, and performance go through the roof.