Mobility is the ability to move, to exercise an increased range of motion and to have stabilization and control over muscles. It is crucial for your well-being, but how exactly can Yoga help?
Mobility, Flexibility & Stability
Mobility is the ability to move your body freely. It takes into account varying factors such as muscle strength, motor control, range of motion, and endurance capacity. With great mobility, you are able to move functionally and in an efficient way. Though not the same as flexibility, mobility training does aim to increase your range of motion. However, to achieve a high level of mobility, one must possess strength, stability as well as flexibility. If we consider stability as having control over one’s movement, in Yoga this translates well into many different aspects, such as a ‘neutral spine’ will neither flex nor extend. Flexibility on the other hand has to do with the extensibility of the muscles and other soft tissues that cross a joint.
Let’s look at an example. A split is a common demonstration of flexibility as you stretch your muscles with your own body weight. Without any active contraction of muscles, this ability works with the passive lengthening of muscles. Now imagine an Athlete in a headstand position performing a split. It’s stability that keeps them in this pose but without the assistance of their body weight, they must actively contract the muscles in their hips and legs to achieve this pose. That’s where mobility comes in.
In summary, while flexibility is purely a matter of how far the body can move, mobility is a matter of active control and strength over the body dictating how well your body can actively move within the range of motion. As B. K. S. Iyengar, movement maestro and intellectual Yogi said, “Action is movement with intelligence” which already points to the importance of conscious movements that are able to help us maintain our normative end range positions.
Why is Mobility training important?
While for many Athletes, be it lifters, the regular gym rat, or even cross-fitters, mobility appears to be a thing important for Yogis or dancers, however, that’s far from the truth. In truth, mobility has long been the secret of seriously fit people. Mobility training activates and warms up all your muscles, it lubricates your joints and it increases your range of motion. Gymnasts need mobility to be the linking factor between their strength and flexibility, the Armed Forces have tons of obstacles based around testing mobility, and there isn’t a single sportsman or athlete out there who doesn’t need mobility to be better at what they do. The simple truth is, without a range of motion, performance will always suffer.
Forget athleticism. In everyday life, we are spending too much time in poor, static positions hunched over our phones or crouched in front of the TV. Can you imagine what this is doing to our bodies? We are reducing our optimal range of motion and really neglecting the activation of specific muscle groups that we need in order to stay mobile as we age.
Mobility and strength – What’s one without the other?
You must keep in mind that strength and mobility are interlinked. A good handstand seems like it’s all about strength but you dont just need strong wrists for it, you also need mobile wrists. Limited mobility would result in aching wrists and poor balance. As Jay Parekh puts it, ‘Mobility is the foundation upon which strength is built‘ and we couldn’t agree more! When you start to put your body into positions that it is not used to, it’s going to begin compensating in other ways. The result? Imbalances, tightness, and aches that result in injury. Mobility training opens up your movements to more possibilities, giving you a greater range of motion to perform in.
Decreased risk of injury
Did you know that many sport and training-related injuries are preventable? When do these injuries happen? Usually when you stretch or strain a muscle or joint beyond its capacity. Mobility should be an integral part of your training as it helps expand your body’s range of motion and it gets all the more important as we age. As we grow older, unless we really struggle to keep it up, activity levels usually diminish. Along with this our range of motion also decreases and the same aerobatic movements that seemed so easy become harder. This is the root reason for so many injuries. This is where the importance of mobility training comes in. Training mobility allows you to move your joints and muscles in ways that are intelligent rather than just intuitive.
You are not working at your optimal level if you have low mobility. Consider lifting: In order to be able to lift and do it properly you need mobility in many muscle groups as well as joints. Failing to realize this might result in limited performance and eventually lead to injury. Similarly, if you are a runner facing a performance slump, you most likely have tight hamstrings and hips due to the repetitive and limiting movement you are partaking in. Mobility training can help in improving your abilities to achieve better positions, make you more efficient and in turn making you better!
Yoga is such a great way to work on your mobility Many training programs focused on Mobility offer ways to explore movements and be more aware of your body and its limitations. Through Yoga, you can develop a greater range of motion, more flexibility, greater stability, and create awareness in your muscles. Sign up for the Skill Coach and try one of our mobility programs and you won’t regret it!
Got only 10 minutes? Try out Daily Mobility Break
Looking for a longer commitment? Try out the first free workout of Mobility Foundations
Looking for specific skills in mobility? Try out the Backbend Flow