Have you ever wondered why people do the same exercises so differently?
It’s a pretty regular occurrence on the gym floor, during small group training or in a group fitness class. But, there’s a straight forward explanation.
Mobility has quickly become one of the fitness industry’s hottest topics, and can have a huge effect on exercise performance.
First thing first – mobility isn’t flexibility. It’s a much broader term referring to joint health, the ability to coordinate movement, and alignment. When someone has limited mobility through a joint, the body tends to compensate and perform movements without proper form.
Improving your mobility is always beneficial, whether you’re a group fitness enthusiast or a heavy weight lifter. It improves your strength, reduces the likelihood of injuries, and boosts the body’s work capacity.
At the YMCA, our Personal Trainers and Gym Instructors are always available to help you incorporate mobility exercises into your workout routine.
To get you started, here a few easy exercises from YMCA Victoria Functional Training Manager, Chloe Davies.
A great exercise to help maintain knee mobility is regularly ‘rolling out’ your quadriceps. This will encourage blood flow to the area, release muscle tightness and soreness, and increase range of motion through the joints.
• Start by laying on top of the foam roller, with it placed just below your hip.
• Using your hands for balance, slowly roll along your thigh from hip to knee.
• Pause over any sore/tight areas, and relax for up to 30 seconds. You should feel the muscle releasing.
• Continue this process for approximately two minutes or as needed.
• This will be uncomfortable at first, so start by reducing the amount of body weight you place on the roller.
• Go slow. Rolling too fast reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
• Avoid rolling on your joints or bones.
• Maintain good posture.
• Foam rolling shouldn’t be painful. Please speak with a Personal Trainer if you are experiencing pain when using a foam roller.
Trigger point balls
If you feel tightness in your upper back you would benefit from trigger point massage. This will help reduce any pain your may be experiencing and do wonders for your posture particularly when exercising. Warning – you’re going to feel this one!
• Find a tennis ball or similar and a wall.
• Face away from the wall and place the ball between the wall and your upper trapezius. These are the large muscles that run up to your neck and out towards your shoulder.
• Roll around on the ball until you find a point where it feels uncomfortable. This is known as a trigger point or ‘knot’.
• Once found, pause, lift your arm straight out in front and apply gentle pressure to the tender area. You should feel the muscle release or relax after about 60 seconds.
• Wrap your arms around yourself, as if to give yourself a big hug.
• Stretch across your body from the side you are working on. For example, if the ball is placed behind your left trapezius, reach with your left arm towards your right.
• Repeat on other side
• Fight through it. This isn’t a walk in the park, but the loose and relaxed muscles you’ll feel afterwards is worth it.
• You can also lie down on top of the tennis ball.
• Find a quiet space in the gym or at home to complete the exercise in peace.
• Aim to dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to trigger point massage, particularly if you know your posture could be improved.
Foam rolling and trigger point massage are just two ways you can improve your mobility. To find the right solutions for you, please speak with our friendly Personal Trainers and Gym Instructors today.
Thanks to YMCA Functional Training Manager Chloe Davies and YMCA Personal Trainer Rob Callea for contributing to this article.