Part five: Components of an effective workout – Mobility and Flexibility Work
Components of an effective workout
Being able to move your body through its full range of motion is essential for making life’s daily tasks easy. Movement is also fundamental to fitness. As our mobility improves, our bodies can perform better and with less effort. Having unrestricted mobility is the foundation for fitness, strength and power. In order to get the most out of your fitness routine, you have to be capable of putting your body through the movement required by the exercises. This means being able to put joints and muscles through their full range of motion. Mobility is also essential to work on and maintain for ease of daily living. It is an often overlooked component in fitness that benefits everyone from elite athletes, to those just starting out in fitness, or rehabbing an injury.
Being mobile is something we often take for granted, and don’t notice until we are injured or unable to perform daily tasks easily. With so much of our lives spent sitting in front of computers and screens, or performing repetitive motions at work, we all can benefit from including mobility and flexibility exercises in our routines. When you think of aging, and people that require assisted care, you see declined mobility in most of the cases. (Does the thought of your Grandma getting on her old kitchen stool to reach the box on the top shelf make you nervous? Sure does for me). But it doesn’t have to be that way. To stay healthy, fit, and able to live our daily lives with ease, periodically working on mobility can help prevent what most people come to think of as inevitable parts of aging. By incorporating mobility and flexibility drills into your workout, you can retain and improve your functional mobility in little time.
Here are some mobility drills you can include in your workout. You can do them at the end as part of the cool down, or spread them throughout the entire workout.
- Triangle x3 per side
- Bretzel x5 per side
- Bird Dog x5 per side
- Perform each exercise for 3-5 reps per side
- Focus on slow controlled movement, with the goal of increasing range of motion every rep
- Breathe deeply and don’t rush the exercises
While mobility work helps increase and maintain our full range of motion, stretching and flexibility work will help keep our muscles healthy and allow them to perform the full range of motion. Active and dynamic stretching (stretching while moving) are performed before a workout to prepare the body for movement and prevent injury. (See my blog post about active and dynamic warmups here). Stretching should also be done after a workout, to help prevent muscle soreness and tightness, and improve flexibility. Either Active (moving) or static (holding a stretch for a period of time) stretching may be done post workout.
Here is an active stretching routine that I use frequently after workouts. (It takes less than one minute.)
Stretching Routine: “888”
- Lost Key x8
- Quad Hold x8
- Lateral Lunge x8
- Perform each stretch for eight reps, (4 reps each side), alternating legs, with a 1-2 second hold.
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