Mobility mattersSujan KC emphasises the vital role of mobility stretches in fitness routines, and how they enhance flexibility, prevent injuries and improve overall performance.
Between trying to fit in the time to workout in our busy schedules, many individuals often skip mobility stretches. Yet, these stretches are far from insignificant; they play a vital role in preventing injuries. Stretching keeps muscles supple and joints mobile. Including mobility stretches in your workout routine enhances flexibility, improves joint movement, and boosts overall performance.
Sujan KC, a personal fitness trainer at Moksha Fitness Studio in Lazimpat, Kathmandu and co-founder of the fitness YouTube channel, The Fitologists, underlines the significance of mobility sessions.
Here, KC sheds light on how these sessions optimise everyday workout performance.
How important are mobility stretches?
Mobility stretches are absolutely vital and should be a fundamental part of any workout routine. They significantly enhance the range of motion, which is the extent to which your joints can move freely. This is essential for both everyday activities and fitness. When your movements are restricted due to limited joint mobility, not only do your muscles not experience the full benefits of the exercise, but you're also at a higher risk of injury. If your muscles and joints lack mobility, you might not feel the exercise's impact on the intended muscles. For example, during chest exercises, you might feel discomfort in your back or shoulders instead. This hampers progress. Even if you lift heavy weights and dedicate hours to intense workouts, consistent growth is unlikely if you can't feel the exercise in the targeted muscles. Moreover, limited mobility increases the risk of injuries over time.
How does incorporating it into our daily workout routines benefit us?
Incorporating mobility stretches is essential for reducing muscle aches and soreness. By adding a simple mobility routine to your daily workout, you'll experience fewer joint pains. This can pave the way for a consistent and disciplined exercise plan. Improved mobility also enhances posture, which is crucial. Consider exercises like overhead dumbbell presses and squats. Incorrect posture, like arching the lower spine, can strain the back and cause pain or injuries. In the long term, poor posture can lead to spinal issues in everyday life.
Does the lack of mobility lead to serious problems later on?
Regular workouts without focusing on mobility strain muscles and joints. Over time, muscles tighten and can even spasm, eventually causing injuries. This process affects people engaged in physically demanding jobs too. It’s crucial to avoid letting muscles reach this point. I remember someone at my gym who ignored my advice, jumping straight into heavy lifting without warming up or doing mobility stretches. Now, they’re suffering from severe muscle pain and have to pause their intense workouts for recovery. That’s why I always begin my client sessions with mobility stretches. The first ten minutes are dedicated to the routine I’ve taught them, and we end with stretching exercises. Lack of joint mobility often leads to injuries in the fitness industry.
What kind of mobility routine do you suggest?
I advise starting with basic stretches and then using a foam roller for self-myofascial release. This helps prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), the muscle aches felt in the days after a workout. I don’t recommend prolonged static stretches like toe touches or hip and thigh stretches before starting the workout. A recent study found that these stretches at the beginning of a session can relax the muscles and affect performance. It’s fine to do static stretches for about 30 seconds initially but avoid extending them beyond that. Instead, I suggest dynamic stretches that actively engage the muscles. Dynamic stretches, such as walking lunges, arm swings, and leg swings, are more effective before a heavy workout because they involve moving the muscles rather than holding a position like static stretches. After the workout, I recommend my clients do two minutes of static stretches to help relax their muscles.