Stretching for Mobility Gains
How would you explain the relationship between flexibility and mobility? Are they the same or not? If you’ve been confused by the two, let us help smooth things out. Here's our take on how to distinguish between them and why you should be stretching for mobility gains.
It’s important to discuss the correlation between mobility training and higher levels of performance. Athletes with greater ranges of motion are more competitive, stronger, and less likely to be injured. But getting to those ranges of motion is a journey of passive flexibility before it becomes an increased active range. When athletes begin working through our programming, stretching exercises are emphasized more than an average fitness regime because your goal is the greater ranges of motion for all of your joints.
Let’s get started first with mobility and how you should approach it.
Mobility: The Art of Being Patiently, Impatient
The word “mobility” is one that gets tossed around like a hot potato. People talk about it, and throw it around when talking about their fitness routines, but the truth of the matter is that most don’t take the time to understand what mobility training really is. They think it to be synonymous with loosening up or stretching. Let’s get to the bottom of it:
What is mobility training?
Mobility training aims to accomplish one main goal: to increase the active range of motion within a joint, or group of joints. This helps to facilitate joint health and function during physical activity; even when performing everyday tasks.
Mobility training is at the heart and soul of the GymnasticBodies training system. We’d argue that a mobile body is the single most important physical attribute for any adult, of any age or fitness level.
Why? Because it’s almost always the first thing that slips from our grasps as we age. Gains in mobility are often made in smaller increments, and slowly over time. Don’t let that time frame fool you, though.
In 6-12 months of mobility training, you can improve and even reverse years of accumulated muscle tension throughout your entire body.
Watch as the athlete above skins the cat with exceptional control. Achieving this level of shoulder mobility is only be possible with superb shoulder extension flexibility.
If you are unable to support the entire weight of your body, then try this modified variation:
First, if you haven't been training German Hangs and the progressions up to it, do that first. Only after you can hang in that position should you attempt skin the cats. Then, lower your rings closer to the ground. Begin your skin the cat by pulling your legs over your body. Lower your legs slowly until your feet reach the ground. Then pull your legs back through the rings to complete the rep.
Flexibility: The Practice Of Mindfulness
When Coach Sommer first conceived GymnasticBodies, he learned a valuable lesson very early on.
That most adults simply do not know how to stretch properly.
For most people, a stretch workout may consist of 1-2, maybe 3 stretches — each held for 30 … more like 15 seconds. It’s much better than not stretching at all, but not nearly enough to offset all the sitting we do throughout the day.
The reality for most adults is that it’s going to take A LOT more than “a few sets of 30 seconds” to undo all that tightness. Some people may need to dedicate an entire workout to stretching and flexibility.
If you think about it, there may be some truth to this statement from Coach. But, don’t let that worry you! Because GymnasticBodies has your back.
Try this upper body stretch from the Thoracic Bridge stretch series and we’ll guarantee that your shoulders will thank you.
Enter The Capsule Stretch
The capsule stretch is a fantastic way to open up the back of your shoulder (also known as the posterior capsule).
Start by lying face down on the ground with your right arm across your chest. Keep your hand face up towards the ceiling and your arm at shoulder level.
Remember to keep your right shoulder pinned to the floor as you extend your left arm overhead. The stretch occurs when you press your left armpit down to the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Now that you have a general understanding of what flexibility and mobility training are, it’s time to put this knowledge to practice.
Just The Right Dose
Mobility should be a top priority in your training because it is mobility training that can unlock hidden strengths that are otherwise not accessible. Strength training in absence of mobility will limit your body in more ways than one.
Use mobility training to improve joint range of motion, so you can utilize your strength in a wider variety of positions — opening up greater possibilities for your body’s physical abilities.
Incorporating gymnastic mobility drills will promote muscle recovery during and after exercise.
This works exceptionally well to control the length-tension relationship in your muscles, allowing you to release that sensation known as muscle tension. Which typically accompanies strength training of any sort.
When exercising, this feeling of muscular tightness signals fatigue to your brain and body. Releasing it can help you work harder for longer.
While mobility training is exceptionally beneficial before and during your workout, flexibility is best trained either before or after your workout. Or better yet, as a separate stretch workout altogether.
If you really want to get the most of your stretch and mobility training then be sure to check out the GB Stretch Series.
Learning progressions to get to the front split, middle split, and thoracic bridge with GymnasticBodies stretch and mobility exercises will keep your muscles loose and limber for years to come – regardless of the end goal or desired skill you’re after.