Healthy Habit #3 – MOBILITY (MOB)/FLEXIBILITY
Part 3 of our 7 part series
What’s The Difference Between MOB & Flexibility and Why Is It Important?
While “flexibility” and “mobility” may sound the same, they are different concepts with important impacts on your life.
- Mobility: how a joint moves
- Flexibility: length of a muscle
Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these components is flexibility. So while an adequately stretched muscle may, in theory, be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it’s basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.
More commonly coaches in the functional fitness community are referring to the definition of MOB popularized by Kelly Starrett of San Francisco CrossFit and MobilityWOD. He describes mobilization as “a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems”.
So why should you care?
This is bigger and about more than improving your fitness. Both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life. Think about it this way: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear, as well as general discomfort, than if the area around the joint could & should move as normal.
We can break down mobilization into three primary modalities: soft tissue work, stretching, and joint mobilization. There’s a great deal you can do to improve ROM, prevent injury, and speed recovery when you add one or more of these pieces into your life on regular basis.
Soft Tissue Work
There are a number of modalities within soft tissue work. Self-myofascial release (SMFR or “Foam Rolling”) is the most common form of soft tissue work. Tools such foam rollers – we like The Rumble Roller & The Grid 2.0 – massage sticks, and lacrosse & mobility balls are common tools for this modality. SMFR can be performed before or after training sessions.
Static stretching is the most common way to stretch short, tight muscles. Static stretching normally involves using stretches that hold the target muscle(s) in a lengthened position. Through autogenic inhibition, this method allows for increases in passive range of motion. If you’re looking for a great “routine” with guidance and instruction check out ROM WOD (Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day) This is something we practice on a regular basis and recommend to all of our members at Synergy Fitness. You can start ROM WOD anytime and you can get your FREE 14 DAY TRIAL HERE
A variety of techniques are demonstrated on Kelly Starrett’s website, MobilityWOD, often involving stretch bands, to provide distraction at a given joint. The goal of joint mobilization is to help increase extensibility of a joint capsule by breaking up adhesions and/or stretching the capsule itself.
Now we know that mobility is important, and flexibility is a part of that and what we can do to improve our ROM. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend an extra hour in the gym every day limbering up all your joints. Start by working on areas that you know are tight and have a history of limited movement. Common problem areas are the hips, shoulders, and upper back. Aim to spend 10 mins 4 – 5 times per week and you’ll start to see and feel the difference in no time!
Here’s that link again to get your FREE 14 Day Trial of ROM WOD