Welcome, and we hope your week so far has been mind blowingly great! Grab a seat and join us for this week’s blog post about how mobility is basically the secret ingredient to enjoying a longer, quality life.
I bet you’ve heard about the importance of flexibility and perhaps taken a yoga class where the instructor seems to be able to twist around like a pretzel. There’s a misconception that static flexibility stretches and flexibility in general is what keeps us able to move the way we want to. That yoga teacher is actually just using mobility movements to go through each yoga pose. Flexibility is the passive ability for your muscles to move into a position. It’s about tolerance in a position not necessarily a lot of skill involved. Let’s say you bring your knee up to your chest, that’s the mobility of your hip, but if you grab your knee and stretch it a bit more, that’s the flexibility of your hip. Flexibility is more like a supporting actor in the role of helping you to stay mobile. Flexibility is your muscles ability to stretch and relax, not necessarily about how well you can dynamically move. Yoga is all about mobility because it involves stability, strength, AND flexibility in one position. In fact, a problem with muscle flexibility can contribute to a lack of mobility, but flexibility on it’s own does not mean a whole lot. It’s a piece of the mobility puzzle. Essentially, you can’t squat well if your hamstrings are so inflexible that it’s affecting your joint’s ability to go through that motion.
We see clients with an assortment of problems from poor posture to lower back pain and the truth of the matter is, it’s largely an issue of mobility. So what is mobility? It’s the ability of your body to move through a range of motion with stability, strength, and flexibility. A better way of looking at it would be thinking in terms of everyday things your body can do like easily reaching for a pencil that fell on the floor. That’s mobility. It’s using your joints and musculature to move around and accomplish everyday tasks.
Now here’s the really interesting part, when we go to the gym and do lunges or do a farmer’s walk it feels like a workout, but actually, those are basic movements that we do everyday. Throughout your day whether it’s to pick up a pencil or pull a door open, you’re moving in any one of the seven basic modes of movement for the body. Those are pull, push, squat, lunge, hinge, rotation, and gait. As in our earlier example when you go to pick up that pencil, it could be a squat movement or a hinge. That’s why mobility is so important and moving correctly is how you get better mobility. For example when you bend down to pick up a pencil, you better be engaging those glute muscles to help you bend down because it’s no different than the squats you’re doing in the gym. You’re protecting your lower back when you engage your core and using those lower body muscles to handle your body’s weight.
Not using those glute muscles can lead to decreased flexibility, strength, and stability, which means a decrease in mobility. If your glute muscles are too tight and having trouble holding that squat position, then you're not going to want to bend down properly. Your body always chooses the path of least resistance, so not using the appropriate muscle groups leads to a whole host of other issues.
Some of those health issues stem from lifestyle choices. A lot of jobs and life in general is done from a seat and can be very sedentary. But the opposite is true for taking care of your body. The more sedentary you are, the more those joints have a chance to lose mobility. Let’s say you go to get out of the car, but you don’t use your glutes, that means other muscles are overcompensating to help lift you out of the car. The over usage of the wrong muscle groups leads to injury. You could be straining your back or suddenly tear a meniscus in your knee trying to ineffectually get out of the car. These problems then require surgery and physical therapy to fix.
The consequences of losing mobility becomes a decrease in quality of life. It can eventually mean an inability to do basic things like pick up your child for a hug or get out of your car. This is something that compounds with age. The consequences of squatting incorrectly aren’t felt right away, they take time to build up into a habit which becomes a lifestyle. As we age, it’s normal that our joint mobility weakens. But combine the natural process of aging with a lifetime of sedentary living and now you have a recipe for a serious health event. The muscle weakness and inflexibility caused by a lifetime of limited mobility practice can result in a fall or a broken hip. Ineffectual movement and no movement at all do not help our muscles or joints to stay fit. We have to commit to a lifetime of mobility.
Great mobility is about moving for purpose NOT completion. That means realizing when you aren’t engaging your glutes to squat because you’re committed to staying mobile. It’s also about staying active. If you’ve been sitting all day, make time to move throughout the day. It can be getting up for five minutes to do some movements or going to the gym several times a week. The important thing is consistency because if you continue to move and keep up your strength, flexibility, and stability then you can retain mobility. Mobility is the foundation of movement for life. The longer you can maintain it, the longer you’ll be able to enjoy life the way you want.
If there’s anything to take away from today’s discussion it’s that your mobility is an important part of being a healthy active person throughout your life. Those continued shrugged shoulders can develop into back pain that will take significantly more energy and time to undo. Stay consistent and remember why you go to the gym and get up everyday. The goal should be to use everything in our skillset to live our best. You can do it! Our team is always here for you if you have any questions or need more information.
Don’t forget, you are your own greatest investment- never live another day in regret and build the life you’ve always wanted. With much love, support, and care take care of yourself and enjoy the week ahead!