Mobility is King…
Mobility... What does it mean to be mobile? How does that differ from being flexible? Are they the same or different? For starters they are different, however the body benefits from both. In simple terms, flexibility is bending over and touching your toes, or doing a full split ala Jean Claude Van Damn between two semis.
Mobility is moving the body in various ways using full range of motion, lengthening and tightening opposing muscles allowing us to transition from concentric to isometric and eccentric movement patterns. For example, let’s look at a one of the basic human movements the squat. Humans have been squatting for thousands of years long before inventing the chair. Squatting is a basic movement but yet most of us do not have the mobility for a proper squat. Most people have tight hips and ankles that often put stress on the knees by forcing us forward instead of pushing our butt backward while keeping our heels down. It’s human nature for us to squat; just look at babies they do it all the time.
Squats are so basic but yet as we grow older throughout our adolescent years into adulthood we do it less and less. Instead we sit; we sit for hours a day at work, while we eat, at home on the couch, at the game, in the car… you name it. There really isn’t a place we don’t sit. Now here is the problem; all this sitting and no squatting is causing havoc to our bodies. Our postures are being affected, the way we walk becomes affected which can often lead to developing back pain, hip pain as well as problems in our knees and ankles. Why does this happen? Well, the human body is made of bones, muscles, blood and water which all play a vital role in our overall health and movement. Muscles are connected to each other the same way bones are connected and in between each joint are tendons and ligaments that link everything together. Each muscle and bone plays an important role on how it affects other parts during movement, which is called the kinetic chain. A kinetic chain is the notion that these joints (bones) and segments (muscles, tendons and ligaments) have an effect on one another during movement. When one is in motion it creates a chain of events that affects the movement of the neighboring joints and segments. If one area of the body is limited in motion then over time the muscles can shorten (tighten) or lengthen, which can create an imbalance to the opposing muscles that can lead to poor movement patterns, injury, inflammation and ultimately poor mobility causing further pain and worsening posture. You see, without mobility we are limiting our range of motion. The less range of motion due to tightness the less muscle we are recruiting, the less muscle we are recruiting the more stress we are causing to other opposing muscles, which can lead to further stress to our joints. See the chain reaction? The body is an interconnected highway and this is where the notion of the kinetic chain comes into play. That’s the bad news. The good news is we can learn to squat again; we can all improve our mobility. It takes time but with consistent work the body is capable of moving as it once did when we were babies. Not only do we have to move more and exercise to be healthy, but we also have to improve our mobility to prevent further damage down the road. Everyone from marathon runners and professional athletes to the average person needs mobility to prevent injuries, to walk without pain and live life freely. For overall fitness, health and longevity, mobility is KING!