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Having a mobile body is an important part of being fit and healthy. Unfortunately t is often overlooked by a lot of people, especially those who are more focused on building muscles or losing weight.
The lack of mobility is often identified with older people. However, the growth of sedentary lifestyle has resulted in more people experiencing mobility issues. It is not uncommon to find people in their 30s’ or 40s’ having back and shoulder problems caused by their desk jobs. But why is mobility so crucial to our health?
Why is Mobility important?
First of all, what is mobility? It’s an ability of the body to access its full range of motion, without experiencing pain or tension. This means that when you have good mobility, your muscles are strong enough to move on their own.
Our bodies are made of several joints that allow us to move. While some of these joints need to be stable (i.e. lower back and the spine), some joints need to be very mobile (i.e. shoulder and hips)
If you don’t have good mobility, you actually increase your risk of injury.
Is Mobility the same as Flexibility?
Flexibility is often confused with mobility, but these two are actually very different. Flexibility is the ability to lengthen and stretch a muscle to achieve a movement. While flexibility is an important part of mobility, a flexible person doesn’t necessarily has to be very mobile.
According to NYC-based physical therapist Joe Vega, a person with good mobility can perform functional movement patterns with no restrictions. However, a flexible person may or may not have the balance, coordination and core strength to perform the same functional range of movement.
To give you an example: when you stretch your leg with help of your arms – that’s flexibility. But when you do the same thing using only your leg muscles, that’s mobility.
Types of Mobility
There are two types of mobility. First type is mobility of a body part or an isolated muscle. This means that you are able to freely use the full range of motion in that body part but you may not necessarily have a full body mobility.
This happens often when athletes improve mobility only in one area of the body. For example rowers focus on their upper body and arms mobility; while cyclists focus on their lower body mobility.
Second type of mobility is overall mobility, also known as structural mobility. This refers to how balanced and mobile is your whole body. It’s very important because it means you can perform functional movements without injuring yourself. Your body does not have any weak links.
What causes Loss of Mobility?
There are different factors which can affect mobility. This include old age, obesity, chronic diseases such as arthritis and diabetes, and impaired strength and balance.
Sedentary lifestyles like having an inactive desk job can also cause mobility problems. It can also make you develop a desk-damaged physique.
Typically, mobility issues go unnoticed until you use a particular muscle and you experience pain. This is why it’s important to maintain natural mobility by constantly moving and training our bodies.
Calisthenics Exercises to Improve Mobility
When you improve your mobility, you develop strength and movement skills, as well as maximize the potential of your body. This will make physical activities easier. You’ll be also less prone to aches and injuries
You also become more balanced and coordinated – plus, mobility also provides you a strong foundation if you want to actually achieve a much fitter, stronger frame.
People who’ve experienced accidents or injuries which led to loss of mobility should consult a licensed physical therapist. But if your goal is just to increase your natural mobility, then you can perform these calisthenics exercises. You don’t even need equipment like foam rollers to do these workouts!
The bridge is an example of a classic exercise that has been taught in school PE classes. The beauty of the bridge is that although it may seem basic, it can actually help in improving the mobility of your body. It helps the mobility of your chest, shoulders and back, and it helps stretching your hamstrings.
Depending on your capability and fitness level, you can do a bridge progression to adjust the intensity of the exercise.
Here is how to do a bridge:
Crab walk may seem like a weird exercise but it is actually quite effective in improving the shoulder range of motion. It also improves your coordination.
To do a crab walk, start by sitting on the floor with your feet apart and your arms behind. Next lift your hips and tighten your core, then start walking by moving your left hand followed by your right foot, then your right hand followed by your left foot.
Here is how to do a crab walk:
The bear crawl is another animal-themed full body workout that targets your core as well as improves strength and mobility. Like the crab walk it is also fun to do as you need to be on all fours.
Here is how to do a bear crawl:
To perform a proper squat, you need to have mobility. But in order to increase your mobility, you need to practice this exercise as well. It may sound like chicken and an egg scenario, but as with any exercise, the way to improve is through practice.
You can start by doing bodyweight squats. If this is still too difficult for you, you can first perform an assisted squat by holding on to a bar or any stable furniture. As you get used to squatting, you will feel that your lower body will become more mobile.
You can then progress your exercise by doing other squat variations where you gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. Once you feel that you are ready to advance your squats, you can try this pistol squat progression.
The Mobile Body
Calisthenics exercises can be practiced by most people, regardless of their fitness level. The beauty of these exercises is that you only use your body weight. When you do calisthenics exercises, not only are you strengthening your body, but you’re also making yourself more mobile.
However, if you have difficulty performing the exercises, or if you are don’t see desired results, you might want to personalize your training.
This is exactly why we created The Movement Athlete Academy: to offer a fully personalized training program reflecting exactly where your level is for optimal performance.
Take the assessment to see how you stack up on the 8 Fundamental Calisthenics moves!