To kick things off, let’s get one thing straight – flexibility and mobility are NOT the same thing. Flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen. Therefore, improvements in flexibility may occur through simple stretches. In contrast, mobility is the capacity to control a joint through a full range of motion. Banded joint mobilisations can be useful to improve joint mobility, for example increasing knees over toes or external rotation of the hips during a squat.
Mobility is an essential component of movement which is often forgotten but has a significant impact on the overall performance of an individual and what they can achieve. Have you ever considered that any weighted movement you do at the gym can be done as a mobility exercise as long as you focus on controlling your movement through a full range of motion? Probably not!
Instead of trying to improve mobility using only stretches followed by foam rolling, try including weighted lifts. For example, a paused squat can be considered a mobility exercise. Why? Pausing in the deepest position of a squat allows you to focus on end range ankle and hip mobility.
What do we recommend?
Instead of separating mobility and strength training, try combining the two and take control of your movement capabilities. Although it is important to be mobile, it is just as important to be strong in those end range positions. This combination (strength in end-range positions) has been shown in numerous studies to be the most effective way to prevent injuries. Mobility and strength work hand in hand so why not train them like so.
Written by Nicholas Dimos (Physiotherapist)