Often, people interchange the terms mobility or flexibility assuming the terms mean the same thing.
It is true that when flexibility is limited then a person’s ability to function or move optimally is impaired. However, the concept of mobility encompasses both joint functions, or range of motion, and the flexibility of our muscles.
Good mobility is about how the joints, muscles, connective tissue such as fascia, ligaments, and even our nervous system functions to allow our body to work at 100% capacity.
A lack of mobility is a common issue that affects our quality of life, especially as we get older.
Technology has led to many great advances, but it has also forced us to become more sedentary and put our bodies into awkward postures for long periods of time. This leads to restricted joints, tight muscles and stiff connective tissue.
This lack of mobility increases the risk of injury, especially to the spine, due to the bodies inability to maintain a neutral posture throughout various movements.
Does this sound familiar? “I was reaching up into the closet to put something away”… “I was just bending over to pick up some trash”… “I think I slept wrong”… and “that’s when I felt that tweak in my muscle!” These are all common everyday tasks that when mobility is limited can lead to a tweak or a strain.
The good news is that a plan for improving mobility can decrease the chances of having one of these types of nagging and reoccurring injuries. Just like we have a maintenance plan for our cars or a routine for regular hygiene, a mobility plan or routine will also help take care of your body.
First, you need to put together a mobility toolkit. A basic mobility toolkit should include a foam roller, a couple of lacrosse balls and a softball for larger muscle areas like the hamstrings. There are also some great massage gun tools that work well, but if you’re on a budget, then a foam roller and lacrosse ball is all you need.
Like brushing your teeth or taking a shower, spend a few minutes each day to work on various parts of your body so that throughout the week you will systematically hit all the various areas of your body. Here is a suggested routine but be creative! If you miss a day, just make up the day you missed and move on. Also, don’t forget the importance of maintaining good hydration. Our muscles and connective tissue need to be optimally hydrated for the best function.
Day 1: Hamstrings and Hips
Day 2: Triceps, Biceps, Forearms and Wrists
Day 3: Calf, Bottom of the Foot and Ankles
Day 4: Upper Back, Neck and in between the Shoulder Blades
Day 5: Glutes and Hips
Day 6: Pecs and Shoulders
Day 7: Quadriceps and Knees
Waking up in the morning:
30 seconds of arm circles
30 seconds of ankle circles
After getting out of the car:
For Every 30 minutes of Sitting
30 seconds of walking around
You don’t have to follow these recommendations exactly. Be creative, have fun with it, and try to come up with your own plan. The idea though is to have a plan to consistently work on your mobility and restore good functional movement. And of course, regular chiropractic adjustments, massages and fascial stretching are also a great component of any mobility plan for optimal nervous system and musculoskeletal function.