What’s up Gronk Fitness,
While practically everyone can’t shut up about strength, size and endurance, almost everyone is ignoring the most important aspect of being an athlete; mobility.
What Is Mobility?
Simply put, mobility is how mobile your body is at different planes of movement and ranges of motions.
Flexibility Vs Mobility – Is It The Same Thing?
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are quite different. Flexibility is simply your soft tissue’s ability to lengthen. Again, put simply, it means how long your muscles can get when you’re stretching them. Flexibility however, does not take into account your joints’, tendons’, ligaments’ and other structures’ ability to move freely without friction and resistance.
Therefore, getting more mobile will help you become more flexible but getting more flexible might not help you become more mobile.
And that’s because being flexible doesn’t necessarily mean you can move safely within those ranges of motion. In fact, you may be quite weak at the end of the range of motion which can cause long-term or acute injuries.
How Do You Improve Your Flexibility As An Athlete?
Being truthful, any passive or static stretching routine will help you become more flexible quite fast. Having said that, you have to ask yourself what’s more important for you; being more flexible or being stronger and in better control of the range of motion you currently have?
If you are already pretty mobile, then sure, yes, join a yoga class and you will become more flexible. It’s absolutely not a bad thing! But if you are leading an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and you find yourself being stiff before practice or when you wake up, then you need to start working on your mobility ASAP!
How Do You Improve Your Mobility As An Athlete?
First, you have to understand what mobility is and that’s getting stronger at the end of the ranges of motion your joints can currently handle. The more mobile you become, the more flexible you become and you gain control over bigger and bigger ranges of motions.
And how do you get stronger at these new ranges of motion? Simply put, you have to stretch these areas under resistance and then be able to come back from that stretch.
For example, let’s say you are currently able to sit on your knees (Japanese style) and then fall back until your back hits the floor behind you. That’s EXCELLENT quad flexibility. But are you strong enough to come back to the initial position WITHOUT USING YOUR HANDS? Are your quads strong enough to get you right back up? Chances are they are not. And that’s because you have the flexibility but not the mobility for that particular range of motion which means you are weak and potentially in risk of getting injured around the knee joint.
So, you take a step back and you don’t fall all the way back. You go only as far as your strength allows. Even if that’s just a tiny bit of movement at first, that’s fine. Start there, build your strength at your current range of motion and then increase that ROM as you’re getting stronger.
Use Your Mind To Move Your Body
To an extent, it’s true that your mind commands and your body obeys. Even if a particular position, pose or range of motion seems impossible right now, start believing you can achieve it in the near future and your body will make the adaptations necessary to get there. And that’s because all tissues related with mobility (muscles, ligaments, bones, tendons) have one thing in common; neurons. Your nerves are what connect your mind to your body and if your mind wills it, your body will have no other option but to adapt and grow.
This concept is particularly true when it comes to mobility and that’s because most mobility problems are just obstacles placed by your mind. Maybe you got injured at some point in your life and your muscles became overprotective of that area.
In other words, get your mind right and your body will follow!