Working on your mobility can play a huge part in improving your overall performance, optimize your recovery, and prevent injury. A body that moves at its best is only going to achieve bigger and better things.
While flexibility is how well your joint can move passively. I.e. how far a Physiotherapist could move your leg and stretch your hamstring, mobility is how well you can actively move your own joint. I.e. how far you can move your leg yourself (without your hands pulling) to stretch your hamstring.
1. REMEMBER: ONLY STRETCH WHEN ADEQUATELY WARMED UP
There’s no point in stretching a cold muscle since the tissues won’t be as pliable and your session won’t be as effective—not to mention you’ll be putting yourself at greater risk of injury.
Only and always stretch following a workout or adequate warm-up session such as a quick walk on the treadmill or even walking to the gym instead of taking the bus - so your body is warm and the circulation is flowing.
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT STRETCHES
Choosing the most effective stretches to help you increase flexibility is key. Incorrect stretching can cause more tension or limit your results. A stretch should feel somewhat relaxing and release muscle tension. Because our bodies are multidimensional, rotational stretching is more effective than unilateral stretching, which addresses one plane of the body. Our bodies need to turn, twist, and bend to perform our everyday tasks. Rotational stretching allows the body to practice these moves so we can do them more easily in real time.
3. HOLD YOUR STRETCHES
Once you’ve established the best stretch, hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds. This gives your body a chance to relax into the position and lets your brain realize that you’re not going to get hurt. If you go into a stretch and get the feeling that you want to release immediately, it may be a sign that you need to spend some more time stretching this area. It’s fine to ease your way into it.
4. ALLOCATE AT LEAST 10 MINUTES BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
Plan your training session to include at least 10 minutes of mobility at the start and end of your workout - and don't rush it. Even if you’re not an athlete, you’ll gain benefits from stretching and mobility training. You’ll notice back pain and stiffness in your body will improve, soreness after physical activity will decrease, and you’ll feel more energised, relaxed, and satisfied. This is even more important if you work a job that requires you to be on your desk.
5. FOLLOW MOBILITY EXPERTS ON INSTAGRAM
Following mobility experts who inspire you to live a healthier lifestyle and teach you new skills (rather than make you feel bad about your body or promote questionable fad diets) can have a huge effect and help you reach your mobility goals and help you get started. Our favourite is @squat_university on Instagram.