Updated: Oct 18
Our last blog spoke on the importance of flexibility. Muscles NEED to be flexible no matter what your chosen sport is. They need the ability to stretch and recoil in order to successfully perform activities or sport of choice. However, flexibility does not equal MOBILITY. Mobility by definition means the ability to control your body in space, and in our case, control your joints throughout their full range of motion, freely and easily. Does this include a flexibility component? Yes. Does this have a stability component? Yes. Does this have a strength component? Absolutely. So you could say that mobility is where flexibility, stability and strength meet! But... you CAN NOT have good mobility UNTIL your joints move well!
Let me explain…
Lets say you have trouble touching your toes. You've stretched and stretched and now OVERSTRETCHED your hamstrings, but months go by and you still can't touch your toes!!! So you live with this thought that its impossible and you're never gonna be "that flexible." What if I told you maybe its not your hamstrings that are tight. Maybe it is your hip joint that is stiff -or maybe-your lumbar spine doesn't want to move. Is it possible that if you get those joints moving properly you might be able to touch your toes!! ABSOLUTELY. This is what we call MOBILITY.
Mobility deals with the joints (where two bones meet).
Flexibility deals with with muscles (where a muscle attaches from one bone to another).
Another example: reaching behind your back to loop a belt or fasten a bra...
You: "I'm just not flexible enough to do that anymore, I used to be able to when I was a kid, but not anymore."
Dr. P: "Stay calm.....we just need to work on your Shoulder MOBILITY. You WILL be able to do that again!"
The motion of reaching behind your back includes the shoulder joint to be able to extend and internally rotate. It also requires your shoulder blade can adduct. You have to be mobile enough to glide in all directions within the joints. Learn the right moves to properly extend, rotate and adduct your shoulder and ... BOOM! Motion regained!
Mobility of your joints is so important to maintain. As we age and get caught in our work, home, and family routine and our joints start to lose what was naturally given to them. Our bodies work on a simple theory: “MOVE IT OR LOSE IT”. The directions you move in will be the mobility you have. Stop moving a certain way, say Bye Bye to that position.
Here's another example: Babies squatting: Have you seen a baby in a full squat? “Ass to grass, right!” Yes our joints are made from birth to be able to do that (birth defects /anomalies excluded). Our ankles, knees, hips and spine should be able to fully flex to GET LOW. It a beautiful thing! But can you do it?! Maybe you can't because you stopped squatting so deep and you lost it? This goes the same for reaching behind your back, touching your toes.
What I'm saying is: You MOVE IT or you LOSE IT!
So two questions may be coming to your mind now:
" Dr. P....how do you maintain mobility?"
"Oh and....Dr. P....can I still get all of my mobility back one I've lost it?
Lets start with the latter: can you get ALL your mobility back once you've lost it?
Well...IT DEPENDS. It depends on how much joint mobility you've lost, and how long has it been since you've last had it. The body changes everyday in small ways to the inputs you give it SO if you give it daily mobility inputs for long term periods of time your body will respond to those as it's "new normal" and therefore give you the mobility you seek. So you DEFINITELY will gain mobility but how much depends.
Next: How do you maintain mobility?
You simply have to work for it. Just like anything: consistency is key. Mobility work 4-6 times per week versus 1-2 times per week will yield greater effects and longer lasting results. What is even more beneficial is adopting a routine that is specialized for you and your mobility requirements. This will keep you invested and enjoying your process which leads to better long term compliance and ongoing results.
1. Do not expect your body to keep up its mobility on its own (or flexibility and strength for that matter).
2. Move it or lose it: your body gives what it gets. Give it more!
3. Long term consistency yields the best results = a happy mobile body !
So let's get moving :)
Dr. Nicole Palermo
The right Physical Therapist will find a mobility routine specialized for you and you daily, recreational and/or sporting needs!! Come see us for help.