- Spend long hours at a desk
- Do a lot of travelling
- Play sports
- Are over 35 years old
- Suffer from stiff muscles or joints
(So yes the chances are if you are reading this you would probably benefit from some focused mobility work, unless you have hypermobility, in which case you will need to tread carefully with mobility work)
Flexibility V Mobility
The terms mobility and flexibility are often used interchangeably. However they are in fact two very different modalities.
Flexibility is defined as “the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion”, whereas mobility is the “ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion”. Many additional structures define how good a person’s mobility is. It is not only the muscles stretching over a joint but also how far the joint moves within the joint capsule. Mobility also takes into account the component of motor control within the nervous system.
The research seems to be pointing to the fact that doing flexibility stretches has a transient effect.
Stretching can increase the range of motion in the muscle tissue and you may feel the muscles are stretched out and less stiff, but within a very short period of time they have returned to their original position.
It is also worth noting that if you have restrictions within a joint structure, then all the stretching in the world is not really going to reap any rewards. A stiff joint will not allow the muscle to achieve its full range of motion.
Static stretching has very little impact on the nervous system.
Which can mean the muscles can be lengthened and the brain has not registered it. Whereas when you are doing mobility exercises it requires upregulation of the nervous systems which means the muscle and joints are in communication with the brain. This allows you to achieve new long term changes in the function of a muscle or joint.
In some rehabilitation incidents stretching can however be beneficial. When we get injured the body lays down scar tissue and this can lead to a poorer tissue quality. So stretching the muscle and fascia can aid recovery.
Static stretching can also be a great tool to be used in terms of its relaxation effect. Lying doing some stretches can be a very nice way to relieve stress.
If you want to move better, reduce your risk of injuries and maximise your outcomes from a stretching session then you should focus on mobility exercises. Keep the flexibility work for relaxation and rehab.
Mobility For Desk Workers
Before even considering which mobility exercises are best for someone with a sedentary job we would recommend that you start by not spending too long at your desk without moving.
We appreciate that the majority of your work has to be delivered on a screen, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay in that one position for hours on end.
Worse case scenario just getting up and shaking things off a bit and walking back and forward across the room a couple of times every hour will have a huge impact on your mobility.
Your soft tissues, joints and your cardiovascular system do not respond well to long periods of inactivity. If you don’t get up and move more often, it will feel like you are fighting a losing battle with your mobility / flexibility workouts
Myofascial Lines (a mobility game changer)
When I first learned anatomy 20 years ago much of my learnings were focused around where the muscles origins and insertions were and what their function was. As I progressed through my career I learned more about myofascia and how it encases every muscle, joint structure and many of the internal organs. This stuff is like a webbing that interconnects the whole body and has a huge influence on how we move.
So when you do a session with us these systems shown in the pictures are what’s behind a lot of the exercises we are doing and in particularly when we are doing mobility / flexibility work.
Here is a ground up approach to mobility that we recommend:
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