Increase Your Range, Increase Your Gains
by Coach Sol
Mobility is an often overlooked component of fitness. It helps keep the body in balance, reduce risk of injury, speed up recovery, improve performance, maintain long-term health, and much more.
Mobility is the quality or state of being mobile, or more specifically – the ability to move freely and easily. When we can move freely and easily life is good; when we cannot, life can be pretty tough. Mobility is a combination of flexibility and strength. Not only do we need the ability to attain a position but also to control it. Deficiencies in mobility are always two-fold where one muscle is over-active and tight and its opposing counterpart is under-active and weak. In its simplest terms mobilizing means to inhibit and lengthen the over-active muscle and activate and strengthen the under-active one. Having your muscles in what are called proper “length-tension relationships” leads to proper mobility.
Outside the gym, being mobile means less discomfort in daily activities like getting in and out of the car or getting up off the ground. A mobile body moves through these and other daily tasks with ease, significantly improving overall quality of life. As we age, one of the main causes of daily discomfort and injury is a lack of mobility. Stiff joints and muscles just don’t feel good and that limited range of motion makes daily tasks more difficult than necessary, which increases the risk of injury in everything you do.
In the gym, being mobile means increased efficiency leading to better performance and therefore results. Increasing efficiency decreases the load placed on the body. With that decreased load more work can be done, and more work equals better results! Poor mobility in the gym prevents proper range of motion leading to poor form. Poor form is the cornerstone of increasing risk of injury.
Here’s an example, when pressing overhead we must be able to move the bar from under our chin to overhead while maintaining the bar in a vertical path over our center of balance (the mid-foot). To do this, we first need the ability to pull our chin out of the way without looking up so that the bar does not go around our face violating our vertical path. This requires proper mobility in the neck and upper/middle back. Next we need to be able to lock the arms out overhead where the wrist is supported by the elbow, the elbow by the shoulder, the shoulder by the rib cage, the rib cage by the hips, the hips by the knee, and the knee by the mid-foot. The main need here is proper mobility in the shoulders, lats, and rib cage. Lacking the mobility for proper neck movement will often place excess strain on the neck, shoulders, and lower back by moving the bar forward of the center of balance and making these muscles strain to maintain control of the bar. Likewise, a lack of mobility in the lockout position will almost always result in the lower back compensating for the defect. Either one of these scenarios is not good and increases risk of injury.
To sum it up, get mobile and stay mobile. Spend at least ten minutes each day improving your ability to be efficient, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your quality of life for years to come. If you don’t know what needs to be done or how to do it, talk to your coaches. They have the tools you need to get the results you desire. Now go grab a foam roller and a lacrosse ball!