How to Improve Joint Mobility

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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Fitness professionals emphasize the significance of flexibility and mobility. No matter whether we're trying to lift a heavy barbell or just sitting in a chair for too long, our muscles need full range of motion so they can move as needed.

Though these terms are often used interchangeably, there's actually quite a distinction between flexibility and mobility.

When used properly, flexibility refers to your body's passive ability to lengthen; mobility refers to how far an active joint can move through its range of motion. Imagine taking two ends of a rubber band and stretching it between your fingers--if too stiff, it might snap!

Mobility encompasses multiple factors, from joint health and muscle strength to motor control, body awareness (proprioception) and agility.

When we speak of mobility, we refer to how well you are able to perform movements and exercises throughout your daily activities and workout sessions--not simply your ability to perform handstands or touch your toes.

Flexibility and mobility training is vital to healthy aging and injury-free living, but you don't have to dedicate hours every day for mobility work; smaller sessions such as morning yoga or lunch-break stretching sessions or an end of the day foam roll session will have just as much of an effect.

Here is how you can make more of these moments count, we shall cover:

  • What is mobility?
  • Flexibility vs mobility
  • 5 exercises
  • Do you want to increase mobility?
  • Conclusion
  • FAQ

Joint Mobility refers to the ability for joints to move through their full range of motion.

Mobility can be determined by multiple factors such as muscle flexibility, joint structure and surrounding ligaments/tendons.

Force applied during movement also has an impactful response; particularly intensive training can put undue strain on your joints which means good mobility is vitally important to both health and performance.

Tight muscles and tissues can have a dramatic impact on mobility by pulling on joints to restrict them from moving freely, increasing pain levels and the risk of injury.

Mobility is an essential aspect of strength training because having mobile joints makes it much simpler and safer to position the body for lifting weights safely and efficiently.

Maintaining joint mobility can be achieved easily through some simple lifestyle adjustments. Staying active, taking frequent stretch breaks, and creating a daily mobility regimen all help to maintain joint health and mobility.

A daily mobility routine can also serve as an excellent way to gauge how your body is feeling on an ongoing basis, providing insight into any trends that emerge and revealing any specific areas that require stretching out more - helping you make adjustments throughout the day to keep moving and functioning optimally. 

What is Mobility?

The ability to move at full capacity and freely is what we call mobility. Your joints will have less than optimal range of motion if you are restricted in mobility. You may be more prone to injury and pain in your joints if you are rigid. 

For training success, a full range of motion is essential

Our daily life, our health, and even the way we train are all affected by mobility. Mobility can decrease as we age. Mobility is determined by posture and movements. 

Our mobility, or lack of it, can also affect our range and posture. Without specific mobility exercises, it can become a cycle. 

Even those who exercise regularly lead relatively inactive lifestyles when they are not working out. Most people work at an office or watch TV or use computers during their free time. This lifestyle can lead to reduced mobility. 

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Flexibility Vs. Mobility 

Understanding the differences between flexibility and mobility is important. Mobility refers the range of motion in the joints. Flexibility refers the amount of stretching in the muscles and ligaments. 

You may think that you are active if you exercise regularly and do stretches to increase flexibility. However, you might be holding yourself back by a lack in mobility. The right mobility training will get you to where you want to be. 

What is the importance of mobility for muscle building?

What are the benefits of mobility exercises for your strength training program? We'll look at an example in order to get things into perspective. 

Mobility Training in Action

Imagine that you're in the gym and about to perform a bar-squat. As you get into a squatting posture, think about each of the muscles.

Initially, you might think about the large muscle groups, such as quads, glutes and hamstrings. 

Remember that your joints are what allow you to achieve this position. The squat is centered around your hips, ankles and knees. Your wrists hold the barbell. 

You can concentrate more on muscle growth when you have good mobility in your joints. You can spend less energy on compensating for limited joint mobility and instead focus your efforts towards improving your training. 

Get a Full Range of Motion

To get the best out of strength training, you need to have a complete range of motion at your joints. You can avoid bad posture while weight-training, and reduce joint pain. Spending less time recovering means you can spend more time training. This is the fastest way to achieve those incredible gains. 

FYI: Low mobility of the hips will prevent you from dipping down completely in our example bar squat. You can work deeper into your squats by creating good hip mobility. This will also help to develop your glutes. 

You can also increase your ankle flexibility by doing the right exercises. This will allow you to do a deeper lunge. 

Exercises that improve mobility can help strengthen the muscles, ligaments and joints. It is important to maintain full mobility as you age. This will also help your results from your training. Mobility training is easier than you think. 

Use these 5 essential mobility exercises

Mobility is a key element in any training program. You're likely asking yourself, "How can I increase my mobility?" You're about to learn. 

Let's now look at how you can improve your overall movement, strength and stamina. 

Here are some exercises to help you get started. 

Hip Circles

This exercise is great for knee and hip mobility. The hip joint can also be strengthened by this exercise.

Rest your hands in a standing posture on your hips. Standing straight, with legs at shoulder width apart.

Make slow and wide hip circles in an anti-clockwise direction. Do not worry if they aren't very wide at first.

Repeat the process in an anti-clockwise direction. Continue in the anticlockwise direction.

90/90

This exercise is great for: knee and hip mobility. The exercise will also help you to overcome any lower-body mobility restrictions.

Both legs should be in front. Both knees should be bent at 90 degrees to the left.

Slowly, start by switching your knees from left to right. Switch them then back.

To Increase Hip Flexibility, You Can Push Your Knees Up Towards Your Front Shin. You can use your arms for extra support if needed. When you rise, your hips should open. Retrace your steps and repeat the process when you switch sides.

Deep Squat rotation 

This exercise is great for: hip, knee and shoulder mobility. It is also possible to achieve a solid chest stretch while adopting your preferred squat position.

Lower yourself into a deep squat position. Face forward with your feet at shoulder width apart.

With your left hand, grasp your right ankle.

Reach your right arm up and twist your upper body.

You can bend your head towards your elbow, but not your neck.

After three seconds, return to your starting position.

Repeat the process on the opposite side.

Cat-Cows

Spine and shoulder mobility. The upper body will be engaged in this clever mobility exercise.

Start on all fours, with your spine neutral and straight. You should have your arms directly under your shoulders and your legs should be beneath your hips.

Keep your arms straight and lower your spine to a curled position. Your head will rise, as well as your pelvis. The 'cat position' is achieved by lowering your spine into a curved position, with the head and pelvis rising.

Restart from your neutral position.

Curve your spine the other way, upwards, by sending your head and pelvis down and bending your shoulders. The "cow's" position is achieved by bending your shoulders inward.

Revert to neutral.

Ankle Alphabets

Ideal for: general ankle mobility. The most epic of ankle mobility exercises will be an essential part of your mobility workout.

Stand or sit, and extend your leg out in front.

Trace the alphabet with your feet.

Only move your ankles, and not the whole leg.

Repeat the process on the other side. 

Do You Want To Increase Your Mobility?

It's now time to move! 

You can benefit from mobility exercises

These five exercises will help you prepare your body to succeed in all areas. You're just a few steps away from achieving epic results. 

Start by choosing two or three exercises for mobility that you enjoy or which support your training objectives. Then, as momentum builds up, you can add the other ones. 

You can add these movements to an existing routine or create a mobility-specific workout. Or, you can integrate mobility in your everyday life. As long as your training is consistent, the benefits will be immense. 

Consistency Is Key

It's hard to start a habit. If you already have a commitment to mobile exercises, it will make adding mobility exercise into your routine much easier. 

You can find even more exercises once you have mastered your mobility. Consider getting a mobility coach. Our friend, the possibilities are endless. 

Conclusion

Mobility exercises should form part of your warmup routine before beginning an intense strength session, according to one study. Dynamic stretching has been found more effective at improving shuttle run times, medicine ball throw distance and jump performance than static stretching in just 10 minutes before strength training begins.

Mobility differs from flexibility in that while stretching exercises aim to lengthen muscles, mobility training moves joints through their required range of motion for daily life and exercise. Without mobility training, performing basic movements such as sitting down, standing up, or reaching shelves would become challenging and could potentially result in serious complications that prevent your ability to function normally.

It is worth it to make the effort necessary to increase your mobility. Your joints will be protected from injury and pain, and you'll have more muscle mass and better health. 

Add Military Muscle to your new mobility workouts to take it to the next step. 

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Questions and Answers about Mobility Exercises

Does Mobility Matter for Bodybuilding?

Yes, in a word. Exercises that improve mobility are vital for bodybuilding, as they give you more tools to exercise with precision and prevent injury. 

You'll be able to reach your goals faster (or smash them) if you have a greater range of movement. 

How can I improve my training by using mobility exercises?

There are many exercises that you can do to enhance your strength and stability. 

Focusing on your entire body is the best way to improve mobility and loosen up tight muscles. Committing to a routine that includes all of your body's movements, from shoulder rotations to ankle twists and more, will help you achieve great results in training. 

What can a bodybuilder do to become more flexible?

Committing to mobility exercises is one of the most effective ways to increase your flexibility as a bodybuilder. 

You will be more flexible by improving your range-of-motion. This, in turn, will make it easier to do your exercises. 

You'll not only improve your performance but also prevent injuries, reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery. These are all key ingredients to help you achieve those incredible gains. 

Why should you do mobility exercises every day?

You should try to do mobility exercises every day if you are able. You can improve your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury by focusing on ranges of motion. 

Anyone who works hard to build muscle or trains regularly (this is for you) will benefit from doing range-of motion exercises daily. They'll help them take their training to the next step while also speeding recovery time between sessions.

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