There are several different exercises you can use to enhance mobility. The three key methods include: foam rolling, mobility drills and stretching.
Using a foam roller releases your muscles connective tissue called ‘fascia’. Fascia plays an important role in how a muscle moves, it’s shape and strength. Keeping the muscle’s connective tissue well-hydrated and supple improves joint range of motion (ROM) and aids in muscle recovery. Roll the foam roller under your body until you find a tender muscle group or area and maintain pressure using your bodyweight for 30-60 seconds. Then move slightly away from that spot and repeat.
Mobility drills are exercises which target the range of motion around specific joints. The mobility of each joint is important however, there are some ‘troublesome’ joints like the neck, shoulders, hips and knees. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can assist you in designing an individualised mobility (and flexibility) program.
The process of stretching is important for flexibility and mobility. It is difficult to move a joint when the muscles connected to the joint do not stretch far enough. There are two types of stretching – passive and active. In active stretching you actively contract one muscle to stretch another, these stretches can be performed using a partner or stretching accessories like bands or straps. Whereas in passive stretching you use an external force or gravity to stretch the muscle.
Ensure you hold each stretch for at least 60 seconds. This allows the initial pain and tension on the surface to subside, ensuring you get to the stretch to the deeper muscles below.
Incorporating both passive and active stretching into your day, particularly before and after exercise, aids in mobility and also prevents injury.
Always perform mobility exercises when you’re warm, ideally after a workout, and focus on each muscle group for total body improvement. Incorporating mobility and flexibility training as part of your daily routine is ideal however, a minimum of two to three days per week will still do the trick. Overall aim to be consistent – long-term flexibility and mobility programs produce the best improvement.