Mobility is how your body moves on a daily basis. Having good mobility means being able to walk, sit, run and move the way your body was intended to. And the way you intend it to too: trying new things, tricks, doing something just because.
Everything really is connected. What happens at your foot influences what is happening in your hips, but it’s not your job to isolate each muscle and try to make it more mobile on its own, as if it were in a vacuum. Nothing works in isolation in your body, so when you look at muscles as ‘tight adductor’ or ‘tight calves,’ you’re missing the point.
Understand your structures, move your joints, teach your nervous system while stressing the tissues and movements progressively. In other words start moving with intent and do it consistently. Show up. Put in. No short cuts. Just get mobile.
Mobility is a topic that often gets mislabeled. It’s not the same as flexibility or stretching, although both will give you clues to a body part’s level of mobility. It’s the connectivity between muscle groups, joint capsules and the fascial system (the web of soft connective tissue that surrounds the muscles and joints, affecting movement and performance).
Mobility has two main components: motor control and biomechanics. Motor control is the technique needed to create stable and powerful body positions. The body is built to move correctly all the time, but our society doesn’t teach us the skills to move the way we were meant to move. Instead, we focus on ‘working out’ or ‘getting some exercise.’
The second component, biomechanics, deals with the muscular structure, joints and connective tissues, as well as the nervous system, which sends signals throughout the body to instruct mobile positioning. Your nervous system is the gatekeeper when it comes to mobility. If your nervous system does not sense that it has control of the joint in the range you’re trying to expand into, it will simply disallow you from going into it. For example, if you have trouble touching your toes, it’s not just your back and leg muscles stopping you. It’s also your brain telling the rest of your body that it’s not possible.
Individual movements are certainly something to master but it’s their flow onto others, the timing and rhythm from one to the other that really means whole body functionality. It’s true physical freedom, and where we should all be aiming our exercise and movement programs.
And how do we do this? Maximize your movement potential by improving the way your brain talks to your body.
To start focus on getting enough sleep and walking more (with a neutral spine and your feet pointed forward), to reverse the physical damage caused by sitting behind a desk all day. Get brilliant at the basics from the beginning.
Muscles create a tight body, not just physically but internally as well. A tight body is not the most functional body. Start to use a sequence of exercises designed to improve how your body moves as a whole.
You can have a pretty amazing conversation with your body.
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