Hi beautiful humans,
Today I want to discuss this very trendy word “MOBILITY”. This word seems to be talked about A LOT right now in the sports, fitness, and mindful bodywork industries.
It seems no matter where my interests take me, mobility training is all the rage!
For this reason, I thought it would be great to explore WHAT mobility training is, WHY everyone is all over it and HOW we can blend it into our exercise practices.
First, what is mobility? As a word, it is defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely or easily”. Well, who does not want that? Am I right!?!? But, here is the part about mobility training that I see getting confused.
While scrolling through IG one day, I came across a post that defined mobility as such: FLEXIBILY + STABILITY = MOBILITY.
My immediate response was, “Yeah, that makes sense.” I am a firm believer in adapting tissue to meet any necessary loads and tensions for activity.
However, when I really considered this equation, I had to pause and ask myself, “Is this algorithm actually defining what is written? Can mobility be achieved by just stabilizing your flexibility?”
I decided to casually explore this idea further by inputting general definitions for each part of this equation:
defined as “the quality of bending easily without breaking”
defined as “the state of being stable”
defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely or easily”
Okay. So, according to this equation to produce mobility gains, all I would have to do is find support within a flexible range of motion. Meaning, if you go into the deepest front split your body is capable of and then stabilize that position and the joints placed in these large ranges of motion, you will increase your ability to move freely and with ease in this position??
Sounds more like active stretching. Which makes sense if you want to improve the range of motion within that position itself.
Instead, what if we consider any attached movement patterns associated with our desired mobility gains. For example, if you are in your deepest front split and then stabilize your position, as suggested, how will that help you find ease of movement through that range of motion dynamically? How will that teach your neuromuscular system WHERE to engage and/or release tension throughout the rest of your body?
Movement is not fixed. We do not live our lives in captured stills… we are dynamic beings. Our bodies should always train with the idea of preparing to withstand any internal and external force variability.
We need to consider first, that mobility training is NOT a separate training modality. It IS the GOAL for all human exercise. Whether you are loosely active, highly competitive or in a therapeutic program, the most basic intention for any training program is to find an ease of motion during performance.
Which brings us to the HOW we can improve our mobility. Movement is primal to humans and constant. Within this dynamic state of living, we can only hope to move in a way that is pain free, strong, adaptable and energy conserving.
This means we need more then just a stable sense of flexibility to accomplish such a multidimensional state of ease in motion.
Having piqued my curiosity, I want to describe what “Mobility Training” means to me. I looked at these definitions, and love all they stand for regarding a need to support large ranges of motion, but something seems to be missing in order to accomplish this idea of “ease in motion.”
My tactic to figuring this out was to reverse engineer my own understanding of the equation:
GOAL = Mobility
free motion of a part or whole part of the body; freedom of movement through space; an ease of action produced from or reacted by one’s body
PART 1 = Stability
sense of support in one or more areas of the body in motion
PART 2 = Flexibility
adaptation of joints to large ranges of motion without injury, pain, or discomfort
PART 3 = Coordination
being able to use different parts of the body simultaneously
PART 4 = Variability
changed conditions due to internal or external forces
FLEXIBILITY + STABILITY + COORDINATION + VARIABILITY = MOBILITY
This equation is a more holistic understanding of mobility training. The reality of the word mobility is that it is what all humans hope to gain in all sport activity. Moving with ease is accomplished when we explore flexible ranges of motion, support and strength around those ranges, coordinate linking kinetic patterns, change the condition to which your ranges have been experienced (via breath control, gravity loading, resistance, free weight, speed variance) and learning to be curious about what you are asking your body to do.
Stay focused. Be aligned. Keep Moving.