Why mobility drills are so important.

I guess the first question that needs to be asked here is: what is mobility? The dictionary definition of mobility is ‘the ability to move or be moved freely and easily’. In fitness, this refers to how freely you can move a joint through its full range of motion.

So why is this important? When we talk about fitness, the word ‘strength’ often comes to mind. But can you really be strong without being mobile too? My answer is no.

Strength is a broad subject, however, if I were to write a dictionary definition of physical strength, it would be as follows: ‘the ability to move a heavy/maximum load or object through full range of movement’. Take a movement such as overhead press – if the load was too heavy, we would be unable to complete the movement from A to B, in this case, from the front rack position to overhead. Lack of mobility also restricts this. If the shoulders are unable to move through the full range, the overhead position becomes difficult, therefore compromising strength.

Lack of mobility can affect training on a large scale. First of all, you won’t be getting the full benefit of the exercises you’re completing – unfortunately half reps don’t do much. Secondly, you’re at a risk of injury. Without mobility, the body starts to compensate by putting the load on different areas. Going back again the overhead press, being unable to get to the full lockout position can put extra strain on the shoulders and rotator cuff muscles, causing instability, weakness and potentially injury.

Hypermobility can also cause issues within training. Hypermobility is joint movement beyond normal range of motion. This can cause a lot of instability as the connective tissue contained in the ligaments holding the joint together is stretchy and weak. This can cause injuries such as sprains and dislocations.

A happy medium of stability and mobility is therefore required to excel in training with minimal injury. How can we achieve this? First, we need to establish which one we lack. For hypermobility, training focus needs to set on maintaining strength and stability, for example, Turkish get ups are a great exercise for the stabilisation of shoulders, core and hips. If mobility is what you’re lacking, it is essential to add mobility drills into your training to improve your movement. I have listed some of my favourite mobility drills below:

1. Shoulder dislocations

No not the painful kind. Using a broomstick or long resistance band, holding it at either end and passing above head to full extension, forwards and backwards. Repeat 8-10 times.

2. Thread the needle with foam roller

Great for improving thoracic rotation. Starting on all fours, use the foam roller to pass one arm across the body so the shoulder comes to the floor and then move back to centre. Repeat this 5 times either side with slow repetition.

3. Bodyweight good mornings

A great drill for pre-deadlift. Fingers resting behind the head, keeping the back straight and knees just slightly relaxed, tilt the body as far forwards as possible without curving spine and then standing back up again. Repeat 8-10 times. For added benefit, add a deep squat to the movement after a few reps.

Mobility drills are just as important as the exercise itself. I hope this has provided some helpful insight into why!

Alix x

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