Always Be Mobilizing – a phrase used to remind people of the many opportunities available throughout the day to maintain, regain, and improve your range of motion.
NO TIME? MAKE TIME!
Feeling stiff, sore, and tight? Yup, welcome to the club. Can’t find time to dedicate solely to stretching and mobility? I understand.
With a full time job, kids, and places to be, it’s hard enough to find time just to exercise, let alone stretch. This article is going to help you reframe your mindset regarding ways to stay flexible. Good news is, you can mobilize at all times of the day! I like to call this “Always Be Mobilizing”.
ALWAYS BE MOBILIZING
This is something I came up with to help people stay flexible throughout their day. Coaching thousands of CrossFit group classes, I would see too many people hit the workout, then immediately run out the door in a hurry to start their day.
Understandably so, they are successful, busy, important people. But I knew deep down that they would end up stiff by the next time I saw them, and in some cases, injured.
I started to give people simple stretches that they could do at their desk, in their car, or wherever they found themselves throughout the day. I went so far as to say, “Hey look, if you can’t find time to stretch, do it in line at the coffee shop. Pop a squat, stretch your shoulders, do something!”
Soon enough, people got the message. If we don’t have 10-15 minutes after the workout to stretch, MAKE TIME throughout your day! Remember, if you aren’t maintaining or improving your flexibility, you are slowly LOSING it. This is how the Always Be Mobilizing movement started!
Here is all you need to know on how to Always Be Mobilizing.
WHO NEEDS TO MOBILIZE?
Everyone! We live in a world where we are forced to be inactive, stationary, and in a seated position. In your car, at the dinner table, at your desk, texting, on the computer, and the list goes on of all the activities we do that REQUIRE us to be in a seated position. This wreaks havoc on our bodies in so many ways! For this reason, and this reason alone, EVERYONE needs to mobilize throughout the day.
When you sit, a ton of problems occur. Your hips are in a closed position, your ankles are in a flexed position, and your shoulders are rounded forward. ALL of these are terrible for overall body pain AND athletic performance. You cannot be in the seated position the majority of your day, and expect to be able to perform at your best in and out of the gym.
This goes for those who are on their feet the majority of the day…law enforcement, construction workers, retail, etc. When you stand for long periods, your feet, ankles, and calves tighten up. This causes a trickled effect into your knees, quads, hamstrings, hips, and lower back.
My point is, unless you are working through full ranges of motion at your job, you need to mobilize!
WHERE TO START?
A good place to start is with your ankles, hips, and shoulders. Most people need work in these three areas more than anything. If you can’t do all of them, triage the worst out of the three and start there.
- Ankles – with stiff ankles, your knees cannot move forward when you squat, which forces the torso forward when you squat low. This also affects the function of the foot, and everything starts with the feet.
- Hips – with tight hips, your pelvic bone tilts slightly forward and creates lower back issues. Your lower back will often hurt because it’s trying to pull your hips back into alignment. This also limits glute and hamstring engagement, which are primary movers of the posterior chain.
- Shoulders – with tight shoulders, you aren’t able to press anything over your head without arching your lower back, which can create some serious low back pain. Your upper back also wants to pull you back into alignment, which causes pain in the neck and upper back.
WHEN AND WHERE TO MOBILIZE?
All the time, and everywhere! Find a way to mobilize at least one body part at all times. This sounds crazy and I admit, it kinda is. It also is very realistic and time efficient. I call these “mobility hacks.”
Brushing your teeth? Cool, pop into the bottom of a squat. Standing in line at the grocery store? Awesome, pull your foot to your butt and stretch your hips and quads. Stuck in traffic? Even better, reach one hand behind the driver’s seat and stretch your pecs and shoulders.
There are ENDLESS ways to mobilize throughout your day in order to stay limber and prevent stiffness. It’s better than doing nothing. Don’t wait until later, start mobilizing now while you finish reading this article!
There is tons of research to support that a flexible muscle is an explosive muscle, and how flexible muscles perform better in athletic performance. On top of the research, there are many other personal experiences I have to show the benefits of daily mobility training, flexibility, and stretching. These experiences are personal, and through training clients.
The main benefit that I have found is that it makes the athlete more aware of their own body. Our bodies are incredibly durable and adaptable. Many times we are so stiff, and have been for so long, that we don’t even realize how much pain this is causing our bodies. We have become so accustomed to being in chronic pain that we have forgotten how much our bodies hurt.
Daily stretching, mashing, and foam rolling is important for us to check in with our bodies. Where are you tight? Where are you in pain? Do you need to back off of training? Can you fix the painful area so you can push harder in training the next day? These are all very good questions that you should be asking yourself, for athletic performance and quality of life!
IS TOO MUCH BAD FOR YOU?
The benefits of mobility and stretching has been well documented in the past. However, there has been an interesting movement recently to support that a stiff, or less flexible muscle actually increases athletic performance. The theory behind this is that a stiff or “tense” muscle can actually fire harder and more explosive, without the athlete having to battle an overly flexible muscle.
I have two thoughts on this. First, in regards to your average “weekend warrior” style athlete. The athlete who has a full time job that requires them to be sedentary most of the day but is active for about an hour in the gym. For most people in this category, mobility is a glaring weakness and just getting into certain positions is difficult. Simply getting into a proper and safe overhead press or squat is the challenge.
For this person, mobility should be a huge priority or else they run the risk of injury over time. Mobility should occur before the workout for this person, in order to help them get into a better and safer position for the exercises they are about to perform. If they don’t do this before, they run the risk of stressing the body in a compromised position.
This person may even be an incredible athlete, beating people in running races and CrossFit workouts. Eventually, without proper ankle, hip, and shoulder mobility, this person will suffer an injury due to overcompensation or flat out bad form. It may take a month, a year, or even 10 years, but it will happen. Don’t fall into this category and ALWAYS BE MOBILIZING!
For the higher level athlete who already has great mobility and does not struggle getting into proper position, flexibility training differs. For this athlete, mobility is not a priority, but a necessity. It’s a necessity in order to prevent muscle soreness, expedite recovery, and maintain self awareness of how their body is feeling.
For this person, pre-workout stretching is more dynamic, priming style mobility. It is less about getting them into a better position and more about getting their body ready for exercise. This person should also emphasize mobility training after their workout, to help maintain or increase flexibility while your muscles are loose and warm.
So here is my cry for more mobility! Stop living a painful life. Stop living with lower back pain, plantar fasciitis, and “text neck.” Start moving better throughout your day and in the gym. Start hitting personal records in the gym because you aren’t fighting your own muscle restrictions. Utilize your time wherever you are and start stretching today!
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