One of the biggest mistakes I see men and women make in the gym is getting too caught up in the aesthetic focus of fitness. Of course it’s great to look good, but not when it comes at the expense of more important physical attributes like health and mobility.
During your twenties, you can get away with a gung-ho attitude to personal training: your body recovers rapidly, and it’s still benefiting from the natural flexibility you had during childhood. As the years pass, however, even basic movements like squats and lunges can become laboured and difficult.
Men often suffer from ‘it won’t happen to me’ syndrome – but it will. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way. Mobility and flexibility used to be a blind spot for me – but then I noticed my body suffering and tweaked my workouts to address the problem.
My friend and colleague Victor Analuwa played a big role in helping get my joints back on track. Victor is so big on Yoga and Pilates that I’m pretty sure he’s got younger over the five years I’ve known him!
To help you learn from Victor’s well of knowledge, here’s his introduction on how to make the most of your own mobility…
What is mobility? Is it the same as flexibility?
Mobility refers to our ability to move freely without stress on the body. Our flexibility is dependent on the range of motion of our muscles. The two are not the same, but are not mutually exclusive. Good mobility can assist your flexibility and vice versa.
Is mobility more important as we get older?
It’s important to be mobile at any age. The ageing process can take its toll on the body, so it is important that we stay mobile and supple to combat this.
What are the main benefits of mobility training?
Mobility training can improve the range of motion of our joints and muscles. It can assist in improving our posture. Mobility training can alleviate ‘everyday’ aches and pains as well as improve our body awareness.
Is it ever too late to start mobility training? How soon could you begin to see results?
It is never too late to start mobility training. Your mobility is always something you can improve. In terms of results, this will initially be something you feel rather than see. You might feel a little less stiff after one or two sessions – but the key is to be consistent with your mobility training. Over time you should see an increase in your range of motion and perhaps improvement in your performance in other activities.
Can mobility training be incorporated alongside other forms of training or is it a discipline unto itself?
Mobility training can be used as part of your warm-up for your workout, or you can use it within your training in the form of active rest. The exercises can also be used to recover from other forms of training.
What kind of ailments could be prevented or reversed with proper mobility work?
Conditions such as lower back or knee pain, plus some forms of arthritis, can benefit from mobility exercises. However, it’s important to remember that they should always be performed within a pain free range.