Whether you work out and lead an active life or don’t have the time or inclination for some physical activity, the one thing that everyone must make time for in the New Year is some mobility work. It doesn’t require any equipment nor does it take up much time. Even 10 minutes is plenty of time. Mumbai-based personal trainer Preetesh Manas underlines the importance of mobility for everyone. “You have to go through your day to day life and perform simple tasks as getting out of bed, sitting down, standing up, walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of vehicles, bending down to pick things off the floor and so much more—things we don’t even take notice of when we are doing them because they are so routine. You need mobility in your joints and body to be able to do these tasks pain-free,” he says. He adds that given the sedentary nature of our modern day lives, it is very important to perform mobility exercises a few times a week.
We have all seen people, even young ones, who wince in discomfort while getting out of chairs or while bending down to tie their laces or pick up dropped keys. That’s not a good place to be. Author Frans Bosch in his book Strength Training and Coordination: An Integrative Approach writes that you should be able to move in a more coordinated manner if you work on your mobility and increase the range of motion of your joints while maintaining control. And if you are one of the active ones, mobility exercises are all the more important to ensure that you perform your exercises through a full range of motion. That’s how you reap the maximum benefits from the workout as well as remain injury-free.
Even for endurance athletes such as runners, joint mobility work should come before loading the body and it must be included in the warmup, says Gagan Arora, coach and founder of Delhi’s Kosmic Fitness. Good mobility in the joints, especially ankles, knees, hips and pelvis, is crucial for runners in order to run efficiently; expending minimum energy while propelling themselves forwards as best as they can. Mobility in ankles means a better toe off, while hips and knees need the full range of motion to ensure good balance and to absorb the shocks of ground strike. Good mobility doesn’t just improve your gait and make you a better runner but also helps you reduce chances of injuries.
When it comes to strength training, mobility not only helps in going through the complete range of motion for all exercises but also cuts down on soreness. Lifestyle coach and fitness enthusiast Pallavi Barman says that whenever she does strength training using weights or even body weight training, she is sore for days if she doesn’t stretch or focus on her mobility. That’s because mobility work allows your body to adapt to move well and move better gradually, explains Rahul Huidrom, strength coach at CultFit. Mobilisation and activation are key in all kind of strength training, says Huidrom. Some of the most important mobility drills that ensure you keep injury at bay while getting stronger with every training session are wrist mobility drills, shoulder mobilisation and scapular activation, hip mobility andknee and ankle mobility drills.
Those who are into high intensity training such as CrossFit, boot camps or HIIT, should ignore mobility at the own risk because of the high reps, weights and lack of rest between exercises. Mobility work becomes even more important when the workout is a short and intense one. In case of long workouts, the first few rounds can be used as a warmup, but in case of shorter workouts you don’t have that luxury. Therefore the warmup and mobility work become extremely important. Make sure you go through hip, pelvis, rotator cuff, wrist and ankle mobility drills before tackling the main workout. “These very simple mobility drills will keep you safe and help you perform the exercises better. These same drills also help those who don’t exercise or play sport to live a much better life as they can perform their regular tasks efficiently and pain-free,” says Manas.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.