What IS mobility?
What is mobilizing?Often you hear people use the terms 'mobilize' and 'stretching' interchangeably. But these are two different things, and both important to maintaining good range of motion, recovery and avoiding injury. As Kelly Starrett explains:
"Stretching only focuses on lengthening short and tight muscles. Mobilization, on the other hand, is a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems."
The body is amazingly efficient at working with what its got, whether that be someone surviving on a diet of processed food or an athlete competing/training through minor injuries. Your body compensates and oftentimes with only tale tale signs of a problem, leading someone to falsely assume their in good health until a serious accident or illness occurs. CrossFit Athlete Jenny LaBaw wrote about this in her article 'Mobilizing vs Stretching' saying
"I have found through my own training in the last year that if I'm having some performance issues (non-skill related) it is 99.9% of the time a mobility issue. If I'm coming forward on my squat, my calves are usually bound up. If I'm having stability issues with my lumber on my deadlift, my hips are a bit impinged. Athletes are strong and our bodies find ways to continue to do these movements over and over without proper mobility and that ends up compromising something else, and that something else and so on and so on...which results in poor movement patterns and ultimately injury."
The intent is not to become paranoid about injury but rather to be vigilant about your health through good diet, exercise and mobility. Use your workout journal to keep track of not only your workout or diet but also how you feel, note pains and stiffness, talk to your coach if your have a nagging discomfort. Oftentimes, these can be curtailed or prevented with a daily routine of mobility work.
Regardless of your level of activity, sitting at a desk all day or an Olympic-level athlete training 5x a day, to reap the benefits of mobilizing it should given a time priority into your daily routine. For some people that is when they're at the gym, arrive 15 minutes early and devote yourself that time, stay late and do the same. If thats just not possible, take 5-10 minutes in the morning while your coffee is brewing. Or maybe you have a favorite tv show you watch, use the commercial breaks to hit some great couch stretches, as demonstrated below. Thanks to Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD for this one.