Posted on October 13, 2021 by Emily Forbes
Stretching and Mobilising. Do you do it? Should you do it? What’s the difference? Let me give you some of the low-down. Often stretching and mobilising are seen as one and the same, but they’re not!
Stretching refers to the flexibility of a muscle and it’s ability to move passively through a range of motion. Think of the muscle like an elastic band; when you pull it and it stretches, it is flexible but if it doesn’t stretch it in inflexible. There are other factors like nervous system, posture and muscle weakness which comes into play with flexibility though! Static stretching (holding the stretch) allows the muscle to relax and lengthen but can also reduce the nervous system activity in the muscle. This means it is not ideal to do before a training session as you want the muscles active to be able to perform an exercise, which will also reduce injury.
Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. But mobility does require a degree of flexibility. Think of mobility as flexibility and strength – controlling a movement through it’s range of motion. Mobility is an attribute to fitness training! Mobilising before a workout will help the nervous system to activate the working muscles and prevent injury. It will also help to move synovial fluid around the joints preventing wear and tear, smoother movements and greater range of motion. Increased mobility reduces risk of injury. Increased range of motion and strength in that range will also increase your sport/fitness performance.
There are many ways and tools we can use to increase our mobility; body weight, resistance bands, poles, foam rollers and weights. At the start of my client sessions I will usually start with mobility drills that are specific to their needs and the exercises we are performing on that day. For example, we might work on ankle and hip mobility for deeper squats. Sometimes, the mobility exercise is performing the same exercise with little to no weight.
Here is Kate’s blog for some simple stretches to increase blood flow and relieve pain. Keep an eye on our social media for videos on exercises you can do to increase your mobility!