Physical Health: Mobility & Flexibility
This post includes useful tips, videos and links to help you improve your mobility and flexibility.
Key elements to maintaining great physical health are mobility and flexibility, alongside exercise and good nutrition.
Mobility work before exercising is crucial to ensure your muscles are warm and ready. This helps with injury prevention.
Flexibility and mobility allows your body to move in the safest, most advantageous position for using your strength. If you have strength but no mobility, you are working against the pull of your muscles and moving less efficiently.
Warming up and mobilising correctly raises the core temperature of the body and gets you mentally focused. It also improves the elasticity and the contractile ability of muscle, raises the work capacity and enhances overall coordination.
Here are a series of warm videos for each main joint group. The videos are all dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches are intended to get the body moving and they often mimic the movement of the activity or sport you’re about to perform.
Perform 12 reps/2 rounds of each exercise and your body will thank you.
Back & Spine
Muscle tightness can cause limited mobility within the muscles and can have a negative impact on your workouts.
I have listed the benefits of using mobility tools to relieve muscle tightness and tension.
Please feel free to engage with your Power Circle community to discuss, suggest and share your experiences and tips for using mobility tools.
Perfect for myofascial release, trigger point therapy, loosen tight muscles. Foam rollers work well on large muscle groups, such as quads, upper back, glutes.
A comfortable amount of pressure can be applied through bodyweight and they come in a variety of lengths, hardness and patterns.
Used for myofascial release, trigger point therapy and to loosen tight muscles. They are particularly useful for getting very deep into stubborn tight muscles, they are great for targeting the smaller muscle groups.
Available in a variety of different shapes, size, weight, grip and hardness e.g. Soft, hard, spiky.
Examples of balls that can be used for massage are: Tennis, Lacrosse and hard sponge.
Resistance bands are rubber bands, available in a range of different resistance levels. They generally are colour coded to indicate their respective resistance difficulty.
Bands are used for assisted stretching, adding resistance to exercises and increasing their difficulty. They provide excellent exercise variety and recruit stabilising muscles.
I recommend that you buy a good selection including long, small, mini and handled bands.
Yoga Mat & Blocks
Mats are important for creating comfortable padded surfaces for floor exercises. Also used for Yoga, Pilates and useful for ‘anywhere’ stretching’
Blocks come in a variety of shapes, sizes and density. Great for balance practice, to elevate a surface and rest body parts whilst stretching.
The benefits of working on improving your flexibility are vast and include:
- Prevent Injuries
- Less Back Pain
- Increased Range of Motion
- Reduce Stress
- Better Circulation
- More Mobile and Agile
Flexibility isn’t exactly the same as mobility.
Flexibility is a component of mobility. By engaging in flexibility exercises to stretch the muscles, you can improve posture, prevent muscular imbalances. Static, active, dynamic and PNF stretching are all forms of flexibility training.
Involves holding a muscle at the stretched position for 20 -30 seconds. No additional benefit has been shown to extend the stretch for more than 30 seconds. This type of stretching is best done after your workouts. It has shown to decrease strength and power if done immediately before weight training.
This means stretching the muscle actively. In other words, you are holding the stretched position with the opposing muscle group. Your muscles are playing an active role in holding the stretch position.
Dynamic is similar to active stretching. However, in dynamic stretching you don’t hold the stretch. You are always moving or dynamic. It is not the best for improving flexibility. However, it is good way to warm up before exercise and has shown to improve performance.
Propioreceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF is a more advanced form of flexibility training, which involves both the stretching and contracting of the muscle group being targeted. It is one of the most effective forms of stretching for improving flexibility and increasing range of motion.
This type of stretching was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation, and to that effect it is very effective. It is also excellent for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, it also improves muscular strength. It said to use receptors to improve the neuromuscular (related to nerves & muscles) response of the body. It is useful to have a partner for PNF stretching, but you can do it on your own with a towel for resistance.
There are many different variations of the PNF stretching principle. Sometimes it is referred to as ‘Facilitated Stretching’:
- Contract-Relax (CR) stretching or Hold-Relax stretching
- Post Isometric Relaxation (PIR)
- Contract-Relax-Antagonist-Contract (CRAC)
Please feel free to engage with your Power Circle community to discuss, suggest and share your experiences and tips on stretching for flexibility.
Remember mobility and flexibility are not the same. Flexibility is a component of mobility.
Someone may already have good flexibility in their muscles, but may not have the required mobility in their joints, to achieve certain positions and stretches.
So, manage both and take care of them consistently!