What is mobility?
Body mobility is often used to collectively describe other fitness terms such as flexibility and activity. As a standalone focus, however, mobility is a vital aspect of physical health all on its own. Achieving sufficient mobility for your body type can strengthen your core muscles, increase training abilities, and keep your body at a functional and optimum performance level throughout the years. That being said, good mobility reaches far beyond athletic performance as the way our body feels and moves greatly impacts us in our day-to-day.
The importance of mobility has always been a strong focus for physiotherapy centres, and Ultra Sports are no different! In this guide, we will discuss the importance of mobility, what it means, its benefits, and how to best increase and improve your body’s mobility.
What does mobility mean?
Mobility is a term used to describe the ability to freely move without experiencing feelings of discomfort, stiffness, or stress. It’s the body’s capacity to move actively through a normal range of motion.
Body mobility can relate to:
A joint’s ability to move within a joint capsule.
How the neuromuscular system activates muscles and controls movement
How the nervous system relaxes to allow movement
The lengthening abilities of tissues
Along with stability, posture and flexibility, mobility is one of the key factors of your physical health, as it’s the foundation for every aspect of movement and strength. Peak fitness is often associated with muscle strength, endurance, or flexibility. Sports trainers and healthcare professionals alike will aim to improve mobility in their patients along with the training or rehabilitation they may need.
Those who suffer from reduced body mobility may find it greatly impacts their day to day life. If you are experiencing difficulties with exercise or daily activities, you may need to consider working on your body’s mobility.
Body mobility has been called the “cornerstone of fitness”. This is a big reason why sports physios will focus on body mobility when assessing injuries and as a part of a rehabilitation programme or for injury prevention.
Kylie Jacobs of Ultra Sports Clinic, comments:
“As we age, our bodies naturally lose mobility with muscles and joints stiffening. For this reason, things become less responsive and slower.
Mobility training is therefore imperative to prevent inevitable injury if not done. As a practising physiotherapist, I look into this as part of a holistic approach for the prevention and treatment of injury.”
Mobility vs Flexibility: What’s the difference?
Mobility and flexibility are sometimes used interchangeably, however, have slightly different meanings. Exercises for flexibility will not necessarily increase mobility as well.
We highlight the main difference between body mobility and flexibility below:
Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion.”
Mobility is defined as “the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion.”
Speak to a physiotherapist from Ultra Sports Clinic today
Why is mobility important?
Improving your body’s mobility will allow for improving strength, muscle control, and stability. Some noticeable benefits of working on mobility include:
An increase in range of movement
Improved stamina and sports performance
Prevention from tension caused by sedentary lifestyles or from over-exercising
Improved muscle and joint generation
Prevention of joint deterioration
Improved functional fitness
Prevention from future injuries
Mobility as a term refers to more than just stretching abilities, as it’s the basis for both movement and motor control. Mobility affects the whole body, especially muscles and joints, all of which will work together to make body movement as functional as possible. Although those with good mobility may not be able to recognise it, those who struggle with their body mobility will most likely be aware of it, as it can cause stiffness, pain and even injury.
As mobility exercises also work to combat joint deterioration and improve balance and coordination, they can also help to prevent stiffness or pain as we age. Feeling limited in movement as we grow older can be frustrating, and keeping mobile and active can help keep our overall functioning in check.
Can better mobility prevent injury?
Injury prevention is possibly one of the more significant benefits of good mobility as it allows one’s body to be able to withstand more physical stress.
Most injuries that occur during exercise happen when a joint or muscle is strained beyond its capacity. Mobility exercises can prevent this, as they prepare the body for intense movement. This can also greatly reduce the risk of pulling a muscle, as it is much easier to pull an underactive/weak muscle than one that has been mobilised and strengthened.
What causes mobility loss?
Poor mobility has many causes. Sustained trauma and injury can greatly impact how active we are, but simple factors such as a lack of exercise or sitting down for long periods of time can affect our body too. Any loss of muscle movement, strength and function should be looked at by a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist will be able to assess the cause and create a plan of action to get your body back to performing at its best.
How can you increase your mobility?
Simple solutions such as adding mobility exercises to your warm-ups can help, as they can prevent injuries and protect your muscles. You may also want to incorporate mindful practices, as this can help you learn to listen to and be more aware of your body. Yoga and Pilates can be helpful in teaching you how to move correctly and efficiently.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your mobility, speak to a physiotherapist or health professional. They can help you determine the exact issues you will need to address and help you work through certain exercises or treatments.
Steps to take to improve your mobility
Here are some simple ways to improve your day-to-day body mobility with some simple exercises:
Go for a daily walk
Use a foam roller to release stiff muscles
Work on balance, stability, and coordination
Do low impact cardio
Warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise
Eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and anti-inflammatory diet
Consider your posture
What is mobility in physiotherapy?
If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, a physiotherapist can work with your to get your mobility back on track. From recommending low-impact activities that move the body, such as swimming, to treatment aimed at targeting certain areas of your body, physiotherapists work with skill and experience to help those struggling to maintain their mobility.
Below we share some of the best mobility exercises you can do at home with minimal equipment:
Neck half circles
Sit or stand in a comfortable position with your hands on your lap. Slowly tilt your head to one side until you feel a stretch, and then roll it forward so that your chin is on your chest. Then, slowly roll it to the other side. Make sure to only stretch your head in a direction as far as it can without pain.
Do this three times in slow and smooth movements.
You can use a wooden pole or broom handle for this exercise or something of similar weight and shape. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with the pole held parallel to the floor. The pole should be held with a wide overhand grip.
Slowly raise the wooden pole above your head with straight arms. Keep your balance by tightening your core, and bring the broomstick as far behind your head as is possible without pain. Hold for two seconds and return to the starting position.
Repeat this five times.
Ankle mobility exercises
Stand next to a wall and place one hand on it for support. Slowly rock back to your heels so that your toes lift off the ground. Next, slowly rock forward onto your toes so that you come into a tip-tow position.
Repeat 10 times.
For more exercises or advice on improving mobility, don’t hesitate to contact our expert team at Ultra Sports Clinic.
Our London physio clinic utilises mobilisation, manipulation, soft-tissue massage, and much more to help you achieve your goals and get your body to perform at its best. Call us at +44 (0)203 893 5100 to book a free 15-minute consultation today!