What do you do before jumping into a work out routine? When we exercise, we prep our bodies with stretches to loosen up tight areas or prevent injuries later on. Through stretching, the goal is to make our bodies more limber and ready to move.
But is stretching really helping your body move better? Sure it feels amazing, but working on the flexibility doesn't necessarily help your mobility.
What is the difference between mobility and flexibility anyway? Mobility and flexibility are often used interchangeably, however, they are completely different things. Mobility refers to your joints and their range of motion, while flexibility is about your muscles' ability to stretch and lengthen. For example, you may be able to bend your body like a pretzel due to having great flexibility, yet your joints may struggle to achieve basic movements.
Are Flexibility and Mobility Related?
Your mobility does depend on your flexibility, as well as other factors, such as the shape of your bones, and the condition of your ligaments and tendons. Mainly, flexibility can impact the functionality of your mobility for movements needed in sports or exercise.
In turn, flexibility depends on your joints' mobility. It doesn't matter how much your muscles can stretch if your joints cannot allow movement. A person with great mobility can use their flexibility to full capacity.
You are probably already training your muscle flexibility by incorporating stretches into your workouts or daily lives. The problem is, most don't realize that their mobility could be what is impacting their flexibility.
Is It Possible to Improve Mobility?
It is possible to improve your joint mobility, and it is definitely something you want to invest your time in. If you're an active person yet still feel pain when you move, or want to break fitness barriers like jumping higher or running faster, the key to success could be your mobility. These following mobility exercises may be just what your body needs!
How To Work On Mobility
Ankle Mobility Exercise
Better ankle mobility contributes to your balance and can improve the performance of activities such as lifts and squats.
Step 1: Stand tall next to a wall.
Step 2: Place one hand on the wall for support.
Step 3: Slowly rock forward onto your toes, coming into a tip-toe position.
Step 4: Slowly rock back onto your heels, lifting your toes off the ground.
Step 5: Repeat 10 times.
Hip Opening Exercise
The ball and socket joints of your hip are important for any workout, as well as day to day activities. Warming up your hips with this exercise, and ultimately improving your stability and balance, will improve the quality of your favorite exercise movements. This exercise also feels really good!
1. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
2. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and lift your left knee to your chest.
3. Make a circle with your left knee, bringing it up and across your body and then out to the side and down.
4. Place your left foot on the floor and repeat on the right side.
5. Repeat 10 times, then repeat sequence moving your legs in the opposite direction by bringing your leg out to the side first and then across your body.
Neck Mobility Exercise
Raise your hand if you suffer from chronic neck pain. Working on your neck's mobility can help ease neck pain, as well as offer some relief from related headaches and upper back pain.
1. Sit or stand comfortably with your hands on your lap.
2. Tilt your head to one side until you feel a stretch.
3. Slowly roll your head forward to bring your chin to your chest, only going as far as you can without pain.
4. Continue to roll your head to the other side until you feel a stretch along the opposite side of your neck.
5. Make 3 half circles, moving slowly and smoothly through the motion.
How To Work On Flexibility
Once your joints are well oiled and prepped, flexibility exercises will be more effective. The larger range of motion you develop will allow for your muscles to stretch in ways they never have before! We've found a range of flexibility exercises to compliment the mobility exercises we've just shared with you!
Heel Drop Stretch
Ever feel tightness in your calves? It is very common for people to feel tightness in their calf muscles. The area is often forgotten about, and simple, daily activities such as sitting down or wearing certain shoes can contribute to their stiffness. Calf tightness can also mess with your form while exercising. The Heel Drop stretch is very easy and targets your calves - all you need is a slightly elevated surface like a step, box, or even a treadmill!
1. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of your step, heels hovering off the edge.
2. Drop one heel toward the floor. Bend your other leg, not putting too much weight onto it.
3. Repeat on the other side.
4. To make this stretch even more effective, drop both heels toward the ground and raise them up and down.
This stretch specifically targets your hips and groin muscles. Hips are an important tool for most workouts. Whether performing squats, lifts, walking or running, we need our hips to feel good and move to their full ability! Tight hips also cause lower back pain, a common ache people experience.
1. Start on all fours.
2. Slide your knees wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep knees bent at 90 degrees
3. Turn your toes out and rest the inner edges of your feet flat on the floor. Your inner arches should be touching the earth, toes pointing away from the body.
4. Lengthen your spine through the crown of your head and shift your hips back toward your heels.
5. Move from your hands to your forearms to get a deeper stretch, if possible.
6. Hold for for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Seated Neck Release
Even though most of us suffer from neck pain, we don't put too much mindfulness into how we stretch and move it through out the day for quick relief. However, working on your neck flexibility can ease not only the pain in your neck, but the pain you feel in your upper back overall.
1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, or sit down with your back straight and chest lifted.
2. Drop your left ear to your left shoulder.
3. To deepen the stretch, gently press down on your head with your left hand.
4. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
How will you work on improving your mobility and flexibility? Let us know by liking us on Instagram @itouchwearables and Facebook @itouchwearables. Also, be sure to check out our new articles published daily and the latest styles on iTouchWearables.com!