A lot of people talk about how your body’s mobility and flexibility are important, and some people when injured come to realise how effective it is on your performance if these are one of your main focuses of training.
But do YOU understand why it is important and HOW it can affect your performance?
Sometimes purely understanding this can be part of the challenge then the rest is an easy journey.
What even is ‘mobility’, and how can you improve it?
What does being ‘flexible’ involve and how can it be made better?
Sports therapist Lauren Dobson explains mobility and flexibility and its importance in physical activity.
The definition of joint mobility comes from the degree of movement where two bones meet before being restricted by surrounding tissues such as ligaments, tendons or muscles. Often known as joint range of movement.
The joints in the body link the skeletal system together and consists of different structures such as the bones, cartilage, ligaments, muscles tendons and bursa’s.
Each joint requires a different type of movement, for example the knee joint is a hinge joint and requires good stability whereas the hip joint is a ball and socket joint and required good mobility.
There are a number of ways in which joint mobility can be effected; muscular tightness, inflammation in the joint, muscular imbalances, ligaments tensile strength, history of injury, cartilage damage or degeneration.
Individuals who experience restricted mobility often resort to compensated movements when performing exercise. This is where the risk of injury is increased which is not a good thing.
The main rationales behind focus on increase in range of movement at a joint is to reduce this risk of injury and allow correct functional movement when we exercise.
The majority of the general public think that good flexibility means that you can bend down and touch your toes well, yes this requires good flexibility but there can be way more to it than that. Flexibility is the range of motion in a joint or group of joints and the ability to move joints effectively through certain movements.
Flexibility tests the tissue extensibility of certain muscle groups, and when restricted, causes problems.
Different muscles in the body requires different levels of flexibility similar to how joints require different movements.
When we reduce flexibility, muscles feel tight and shortened and restrict movement, effecting joint mobility.
Some athletes only have average flexibility. Some believe that some sports only require average flexibility…
If you took a bunch of elite athletes into a lab and measured their physical qualities, you might find that they have good levels of strength, power, endurance or balance, but average flexibility. This is all dependant on the sport that they regularly perform.
Think about the requirements of field hockey and the requirements for gymnastics, the mass majority would think that flexibility is only required for gymnastics, wrong.
Elements of flexibility is a huge component of fitness that is needed for all sporting activity and will have a huge effect on performance once improved.
How to improve Joint Mobility and Flexibility
It is proven that dynamic and static stretching helps to improve flexibility and joint mobility, but you don’t have to do hours of stretching to enjoy the benefits.
Then finally there are classes such as Yoga and Pilates, body balance, which can all have a huge effect on flexibility and joint mobility.
The benefit of exercises such as Yoga and Pilates is that not only are you improving range of movement and flexibility, but you are strengthening the structures in them positions too.
Other components of performance can also be approached to improve mobility and flexibility such as recovery, mindset, nutrition and strength.
It is all very well having the best range of movement, but it is what you can do with that range that will improve your performance.
Why not try a combination of all of these? Then you are doing everything you can…
Better Movement = Better Performance
Function Jigsaw will now be hosting fortnightly Yoga Classes Friday’s 6-7pm, contact the admin team to book your place on the class on 0116 3400255
Classes are 60min and £8 per person with Yoga mats in stock and available to purchase.