So you just started working out and are quickly realizing your mobility has nearly disappeared over the years. Don’t worry you’re not alone. If there is one common denominator between all those who return to the gym from a long hiatus, it’s their lack of mobility and restricted range of motion in most, if not all joints. To help here are a few things to consider.
Restoring range of motion.
So when asked how to improve mobility the answer that most people assume; “You have to stretch”. This is true, however this is only part of the answer. It’s not just about stretching, it’s about how you’re stretching, what you’re stretching and what it is you’re stretching for. Are you stretching in a structured way that makes sense or just watching what everyone else is doing? Are you stretching the muscle only or are you opening up the joint capsule as well? Are you stretching as part of preparation before competition or as part of your recovery? These are all questions that should be addressed when it comes to your mobility routines.
Groove the pattern.
As a result of limited mobility you’ve probably been moving in dysfunctional patterns for most of your life. Now those patterns may not seem so harmful outside the gym however when you start adding weight and increasing movement and speed, things change very quickly. Creating the new range of motion is step 1, but grooving a new pattern in the brain to recognize and use that new range, is step 2. The brain learns through repetition but it does not distinguish between good and bad patterns. Whatever you do most, is what it will become efficient in doing. Unless you practice (groove) the proper pattern enough, when you’re tired and weak ¾ of the way through your workout you will default to that old dysfunctional pattern.
If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.
You weren’t born with limited range of motion, you lost it over a lifetime of moving less. Just because you go through the trouble of increasing your range and grooving new patterns it doesn’t mean it will stay forever. You have to continuously work on your mobility the same way you would your strength, power or anything else. It’s important to keep your mobility as much of a priority as your weight training. You can get better at mobility without weight training, but you can’t get much better at weight training without improving your mobility.