Mobility training is a type of training that aims to improve or maintain the range of motion of your joints and other physiological structures in your body. As opposed to flexibility, mobility involves the active range of motion of a joint in all directions. This overall mobility is determined by how a joint can move in the capsule, your nervous system’s motor control, and how well the muscles stretch. Mobility improves the lubrication of your joints and helps protect you from injury. Mobility training also helps improve exercise performance and recovery. Mobility training is more important now than ever as we’ve been spending more time inside and less time moving during lockdowns. Luckily, most mobility exercises are straight-forward and can be done in the privacy of your own home.
Yoga and Pilates
Yoga and pilates are obvious contenders for mobility training. The beauty of both practices is that they force your body to work in different movements than that of running or walking. Yoga stretches help pull your muscles in positions they don’t naturally take in typical exercise or daily living. Yoga and pilates also have the added benefit of stress relief and may help you get a better night’s sleep. You can start with short YouTube videos and work your way up to more challenging routines if you wish. Please don’t overlook yoga! I suffer from anxiety and yoga is one of the best exercises to calm and focus the anxious mind and build muscle mobility and strength.
Cross-training for mobility should be focused on movements that you don’t typically do in your current exercise routine. If you normally walk or run, you should consider activities that get your hips and glutes moving differently. Some great cross training activities for runners include: swimming, rowing, cycling, or using the elliptical. Cross-training will help move your body in different ways and expand your experience with different types of physical activities. I enjoy cross-training because doing the same exercises all the time can get boring.
Dynamic stretching is a form of active stretching that incorporates movement into stretching activities. When I did track, we always did dynamic stretching before track meets to warm up our muscles for races. Some examples of dynamic stretching include skipping, lunges with a twist, bear crawls, walking knee to chests, high kicks, or jump squats. There are dozens of options if you’re interested in giving dynamic stretching a try. I would highly recommend this form of mobility training if you get bored doing static stretching.
If you are new to exercise, you definitely need to start working mobility training into your routine. When I used to do yoga and cross-training regularly, I noticed such a difference in my posture, flexibility and overall strength. I also felt more relaxed and mentally focused. Mobility training will help protect your joints and improve your overall health. Although it may not help directly with weight loss, mobility training can help keep you on track by preventing injury and improving muscle mass and movement.
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Remember, be kind to yourself and keep moving forward!