You wake up, hit the gym, and head to work. You sit at your desk for eight plus hours, then sit in your car and drive home. You get home, make dinner, and sit again, on the couch this time. Whoa, that’s a lot of sitting.
While we may find time each day (or most days) to get to the gym, chances are the majority of you reading this work in a field where you are at a desk most of the day. Despite the fact that you manage to get your workout in, it may be taking a toll on your mobility. Mobility is being able to move freely and without difficulty through a range of motion. But don’t be discouraged. There are exercises and drills you can incorporate into your daily routine(s) to help improve your mobility by means of focusing on flexibility.
Let’s look at the relationship between mobility and flexibility. Being able to move in a natural way with little effort (mobility) can improve drastically by working on flexibility. Stretching (flexibility) helps lengthen muscles that are often limited in range of motion due to being tight and short. Therefore, flexibility is a part of mobility.
While open for argument, for sake of this article we will say there are five basic components of fitness- muscular endurance, muscular strength, cardiovascular, body composition, and flexibility. You can hit the gym, lift some heavy weights, get a nice pump, bang out some intervals and walk around as a lean, mean machine. These are all great, but what about flexibility? As unimportant as it may seem to some, it is just as crucial as any other element we mentioned above.
A great source of mobility work can be found in yoga. You may be a big tough muscle guy and cringe at the thought of sitting in a quiet room for an hour with yogis, but hear us out. Shoot for an hour (one class) a week. If there’s no way you’d be caught dead in yoga class, consider trying some of these mobility drills: (think of gym class warm up from your high school days)
For mobility, think- shoulder circles, arm circles, sideways neck holds, ankle circles, wrist circles
For flexibility, think- lying hamstring stretches, lying quad stretches, knee to chest stretches, arms behind head stretches
We tend to only think we need to stretch muscles/parts once they hurt. Not the case. Making stretching and doing mobility exercises a regular part of your routine will greatly decrease your chances of injury, increase circulation and increase your performance in the gym. Think about a dead lift, for example. If you have tight hip flexors, coming into the start position (down with butt to feet) can be challenging and effect your form on your drive up. By focusing on stretching out the hip flexors, you will see an improvement in your dead lift form and subsequently, may even be able to increase your PR. Stretching works!
Perform these mobility and flexibility exercises both before and after your workout, or even before you go to bed. The great thing about mobility/flexibility is the only way you can really mess it up, is to not do it at all.