Post attributed to Kyle Decker ATC, CSCS and FAST Facility Director.
Kyle Decker, certified athletic trainer, strength and conditioning specialist, and FAST facility manager, has worked with a wide range of athletes, from the Phoenix Suns to USA Baseball. He explains the importance of mobility training in your exercise program:
When we think about a well-balanced strength and conditioning program, we often think the best option is cardiovascular training combined with strength training. However, we often forget that a good program incorporates mobility training. Mobility training is often misunderstood as flexibility or stretching, but it really means training to achieve efficient movement with little to no restriction.
At FAST, we teach all of our clients that while having the mobility of a ballet dancer would be nice, most people only need a certain level of mobility to effectively perform daily activities pain-free. There are many factors that contribute to loss of mobility including aging, sedentary lifestyle, and injury. Loss of mobility becomes a vicious cycle in which normal daily activities become more and more difficult— which is why training to improve it is so important.
Before you even start your workout, you should warm up properly. When training with FAST, our strength and conditioning staff offers many unique types of warm ups for all of our clients. A proper warm up should include myofascial release (decreasing muscle tightness and shortness), dynamic stretching, and increased cardiovascular demand while putting little strain on soft tissue structures like muscles, ligaments, and tendons. As we tell our athletes, you wouldn’t put a frozen steak on the grill, so why would you ask your body to handle the demands of a rigorous exercise program cold and unprepared? A good way to start your warm up is by adding a foam roller program to properly hydrate the soft tissues while releasing any tight trigger points with self-myofascial release. Foam rollers facilitate myofascial release by massaging and relaxing tight muscles, allowing greater mobility when you work out.
Once you have prepared your body for the tasks you will demand of it, you should incorporate movements into your workout that allow you to use and enhance the mobility of your body. Some examples of these functional movements are jumping, squatting, lunges, pushups, and sled pushes. Other techniques include yoga and Pilates, which work on a longer hold of your mobility as well as incorporating strength training and a core workout.
Finally, don’t forget to stretch— it is still very important in your routine. There are two types of stretching: static and dynamic. Static stretching lengthens the muscles by holding them at their end range for a period of 30 seconds or longer. While this type of stretching has its place, most of us also require a more dynamic approach to stretching. Dynamic stretches often move a joint through its full range of motion. Some examples of these are arm circles to warm and stretch shoulders, or a leg kick from front to back to increase hip flexors and hamstrings. Dynamic stretches can work the soft tissue through all three planes of motion— front and back, left and right, and top and bottom.
FAST offers many different types of mobility training for many types of athletes and clients. When starting or returning to activities, remind yourself that if it hurts or is unusually painful in a certain range of motion, you might be doing more harm than good. Call the FAST location closest to you and ask our highly qualified staff to make your mobility work freely for you. To learn more about Phoenix Sports Medicine and athletic training, follow our blog.