Mobility is not something that automatically comes with strength training. In fact, quite the opposite!
Do you know what is happening to the muscles when you are working out?
The muscles are shortening as they contract, so its vital to regularly stretch our muscles to maintain their length and suppleness.
Strength training without proper stretching can lead to a dramatic reduction in your mobility and increase the possibility of injury.
Improving your range of motion (ROM) has a number of benefits:
Reduced muscle tension & better recovery,
Increased mobility in your joints,
Enhanced muscle coordination and
Increased circulation of the blood flow to various parts of the body (especially those being stretched)
Try to incorporate some of the following approaches -
Working on joint mobilisation (and stabilisation) can help you get a full range of motion around joints but also help prevent issues around trouble joints like knees, shoulders and ankles.
Working on joint mobility can help prevent a variety of overuse injuries, aches and pains. If staying injury-free isn’t reason enough, working on joint mobility makes you a more efficient and productive lifter.
Greater ROM allows you to be more powerful while making you less prone to having bad form and compensating with other muscle groups, which can cause injury.
Soft Tissue Work
Both pre and post workout doing some soft tissue work really aids your muscle recovery and overall mobility.
Using techniques like self-myofascial release (think foam rolling) it can decrease soft tissue restrictions that inhibit getting full range of motion.
Improving range of motion (ROM) is key to improving overall mobility.
Self-myofascial release is the most common technique for soft tissue work. Adding it into your day (even days you don’t train) can work wonders.
Adding some soft tissue work after a hard workout can also improve your recovery time and help you feel a little less sore when you wake up the next day.
Stretching aims to lengthen the target muscle. This can be done one of two ways by either statically stretching or using a variation called PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation).
Static stretching is most common and can be done by holding the target muscle in a lengthened position for 30 seconds.
PNF stretching is a great alternative and is a bit more interactive for people who get bored to death doing static stretching after workouts. PNF is most commonly done by stretching the target muscle, contracting the muscle, and then stretching the muscle further.
A great tool to add to your gym bag to help with stretching is a simple resistance band. This can help you with your PNF stretching and can also help you get into more difficult positions.
When working on your mobility think of it as “stretching with a purpose.” Specifically, the goal is to improve range of motion (ROM), positioning, power production, and recovery.
So be sure to measure your progress rather than just going through the motions.
Check range of motion pre and post-‘stretching’ (check and test)
Is it easier to get down into the bottom of your squat?
Are your shoulders able to get into a better overhead position?
Will this improved position make you stronger/faster/safer/better?
Try mobilising one side and then check it against the other to see the difference!
So next session try adding some mobility to help get the most out of your training and keep injury at bay.