Mobility and stretching are key to longevity in any realm of fitness. They both compliment each other and promote a healthier relationship between our joints and muscles. But they often get confused with one another.
Stretching seeks to elongate a muscle. Regardless of activity levels, stretching your muscles regularly should be a priority because it can improve your daily movement. More importantly, stretching throughout the week can help your performance in the gym by diminishing the possibilities of muscle shortening and exercise-related injuries.
There are 2 kinds of stretching you should be doing.
Static stretching requires you to hold your muscle in a stretch for the desired time period. This will improve flexibility over time by relieving tight muscles. Using this method early in the morning or after long periods of sitting can improve posture as well. After an intense workout, static stretching can be beneficial to your muscles in the recovery process.
Dynamic stretching is the opposite of static stretching. You’re not elongating your muscles with a fixed pause, but instead are moving throughout the stretching routine warming up your muscles for exercise. This method is most beneficial before training as it can enhance performance and prevent injuries across the board.
Stretching = Lengthening. BOOM!
Mobility can be understood as the range of motion that your joints can openly move through, typically where bones meet each other like the shoulder, hips, ankles, and knees.
Joint mobility is important to consider when performing exercises properly. For example, the difference between a good squat and a bad squat won’t necessarily be due to the size of your glutes, but potentially the lack of mobility in your ankles or hips. Lack of joint mobility can make or break your exercise form and lead you down a rough path of compensations, injuries, and limited exercise options.
Mobility = Opening. KA-BOOM!
With stretching being primarily for muscles and mobility being for improving joint range of motion, they solve different issues but ultimately achieve one goal: Improved flexibility.
Flexibility is a goal that most people want to attain but struggle to achieve.
For example, here’s a flexibility challenge that only 1 in 3 people can do. It’s called the back scratcher:
Stand hip-width apart and attempt to touch your hands behind your back, by reaching one hand over the shoulder behind the head and the other hand with the back of your palm pinned to your spine. If you’re like me, you can touch your left fingertips with your right hand just barely.
Now switch to the other side and attempt the same thing.
What may be evident for most people, is that they can’t touch their dominant hand even a little because it’s hard for them to bend that arm behind their back.
Now ask yourself is this a mobility problem or do you just need to stretch?
If you guessed mobility you are right. The shoulder joint is not mobile enough and needs to train its range of motion to be able to touch behind the back. What will expedite this process is the stretching of the shoulder muscles in combination with mobility drills.
Catering to your muscle’s length and joint range of motion will allow for increased tolerance to advanced exercises. Your exercise catalog will grow exponentially, allowing you to do more and get to your goals sooner. As a coach at clientel3, we prioritize a client’s ability to move efficiently, if you would like to improve your flexibility limitations contact me and we can get started today.