How mobility work can help prevent injuries and improve performance
The Benefits of Incorporating Mobility Work into Your Training: How mobility work can help prevent injuries and improve performance
In recent years, mobility work has gained increasing popularity in the fitness community as a vital aspect of a well-rounded training program. While it may not be as flashy as weightlifting or high-intensity interval training, mobility work can offer numerous benefits that can help prevent injuries and improve performance for outdoor activities. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or someone who enjoys outdoor activities like hiking or cycling, incorporating mobility work into your training regimen can help you reach your fitness goals and perform better in your chosen activity.
In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of incorporating mobility work into your training and how it can help you stay injury-free and improve your performance for outdoor activities.
What is Mobility Work?
Mobility work is a type of exercise that focuses on improving a joint's range of motion. It involves performing specific movements that help strengthen, and lengthen muscles, improve joint movement, and enhance overall body awareness. Mobility work can include exercises like strength training, stretching, foam rolling, dynamic warm-up drills, and other movement-based exercises. Mobility is different to flexibility and much more important. Mobility is the ability to control a movement through a range of motion, for example you can lift your arm up to its full range of motion. Flexibility is just range of motion without control, for example you can't lift your arm up but someone else could lift it to full range of motion.
The Benefits of Mobility Work for Outdoor Activities
- Reduced Risk of Injury
Incorporating mobility work into your training can help reduce the risk of injury during outdoor activities. Poor mobility and flexibility can lead to limited range of motion, which can increase the risk of injuries, such as strains, sprains, and joint pain. In a 2021 research study done to investigate injury risk and prediction of injury based on movement patterns it was concluded that "The risk of an injury increases with low-quality movement patterns and a low level of flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings. Prior injuries increase the risk of further injuries and full recovery is important. Exercises that improve the flexibility and quality of movement patterns and promote the full healing of injuries as preventive measures may effectively reduce the risk of injury".
By improving your mobility in a way that is meaningful, functional, and enjoyable for you it will impact your ability to stay healthy and stay outside.
- Improved Performance
Improved mobility and flexibility can also lead to improved performance during sport, and/or outdoor activities. For example, a cyclist with good hip mobility can achieve a more efficient pedal stroke, while a hiker with good ankle mobility can navigate rough terrain more easily. Mobility work can help you move more efficiently and effectively, allowing you to perform better in your chosen activity. Finding what you need to work on for your body and also your particular area of interest can be a game changer.
- Enhanced Recovery
Mobility work can also help enhance recovery after sport or outdoor activities. Outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, and trail running can be physically demanding, leading to muscle soreness and fatigue. Incorporating mobility work into your training can help reduce muscle tension, improve circulation, and enhance overall body awareness, leading to quicker recovery times. Body awareness may seem like a cliche thing but we are so busy day to day that we barely have time to stop and realise what are body is trying to tell us. Mobility work can afford us this opportunity - which when done properly can be very helpful.
- Improved Posture
Poor posture better called prolonged posture is a common problem that can lead to a variety of health issues, including back pain, neck pain, and poor circulation. The body hates sedentary positions for long periods. Despite how hard we work to be active, the culture we live in requires a lot of desk work, and we end up sitting a lot of the day. Whilst the "perfect posture" is a myth (thats another blog post in itself) the body needs to move in all directions to be healthy so slouching all day will lead to pain if thats all you ever do.
Mobility work can help improve posture by lengthening tight muscles, improving joint mobility, and increasing overall body awareness. Improved posture can help reduce the risk of injury and improve performance during outdoor activities.
- Reduced Stress and Improved Relaxation
Being outdoors in general can be a great way to reduce stress and improve relaxation, especially if you are indoors at a desk often. Doing a sport outdoors can equally be even more rewarding! However, poor mobility and flexibility can lead to tension and discomfort, making it difficult to fully enjoy the experience and even stop you from pursing it all together. Incorporating mobility work into your training can help reduce tension and improve relaxation, allowing you to fully enjoy your outdoor time and activities.
How to Incorporate Mobility Work into Your Training
Now that we've discussed the benefits of mobility work for outdoor activities, let's talk about how to incorporate it into your training - this will be different for everyone as just like everything in life finding the ways that work for you is always best.
1. Focus on Key Areas
When it comes to mobility work, of course having functional mobility is the essential first step. For example, enough mobility to do your day to day tasks ( have the knee mobility to sit at your desk, the knee mobility to step down the stairs, or the ankle mobility to drive your car).
That being said when you have particular sports, or activity related goals it is also essential to focus on the key areas that are most important for your chosen activity. This may focus on your particular deficits or the important movement requirements for your sport. For example, a cyclist should focus on hip mobility, while a hiker should focus on ankle mobility. You can work with a trainer or coach to identify the key areas that you should focus on for your chosen activity OR you can use Made By Movement and we have videos and classes to walk you through these and progress you appropriately.
2. Be Progressive
As just said above: "progress appropriately" - when you plan to run a marathon you don't just go out and run 26.2 miles - you build up overtime, progressively. It's the same with hiking, swimming, surfing, and mobility. The body loves progression and most often doesn't deal with doing too much too soon very well. Yes, there are always those physical freaks who just seem to go out and do anything but without training but that is far from the norm of what most people experience or should expect from their own bodies. Building your mobility and strength up will be the best way to see what you enjoy and respond to the best.
3. Incorporate Variety
It's important to incorporate a variety of mobility exercises into your training. Not just because the same routine may be slightly boring but also to target different muscle groups. Including a variety of exercises like yoga, pilates, dynamic mobility, functional movement, foam rolling, and dynamic warm-up drills in your mobility routine will allow you stay enjoy the process, and find what will work for you, your body, and your movement. This is so important and so that why at Made By Movement we make that variety easy with over 150 classes taught by 4 (and growing) different instructors
4. Consistency is Key
To see the benefits of mobility work, just like strength, it's important to be consistent with your training. Aim to incorporate mobility work, even just a 10 minute Made By Movement class, into your training at least two to three times per week. Consistency will help improve your mobility and control over time, reducing the risk of injury and improving performance during outdoor activities and sports.
5. Listen to Your Body
Finally, when incorporating mobility work into your training, it's essential to listen to your body. Just like progression in any other exercise or sport some discomfort is normal during mobility exercises, but you should never push yourself to the point of pain. If you experience pain or discomfort during mobility work, stop the exercise and consult with a medical professional.
In conclusion, incorporating mobility work into your training regimen can offer lots of benefits for outdoor activities. It can help reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, enhance recovery, improve posture, and reduce stress and improve relaxation. To incorporate mobility work into your training, start by focusing on key areas, be progressive, incorporate variety, be consistent, and listen to your body. By incorporating mobility work into your training, you can stay injury-free and perform better in your chosen outdoor activity.
Made By Movement classes are the perfect way to try this out, knowing your class is taught by an experienced physiotherapist is a very valuable assist. Giving detailed advice, instruction, and sequences will take your mobility to the next level without wasting time.
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