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Excellent mobility is a key facet of fitness and injury prevention.

Unfortunately, it is misunderstood and undervalued by many athletes and coaches, because they don’t always appreciate the protective measures excellent mobility put in place against injury.

It wouldn’t be unfair to say improving mobility should feature high on the priority list of all athletes if they want to improve athleticism and injury resistance.

There are differing opinions as to how we should improve mobility, so in this article we’re going to look at the research and offer some evidence-based suggestions to help you improve mobility.


Time to read: 7 minutes

Intermediate

Key Points:

  • The difference between flexibility and mobility
  • How to train to improve muscular mobility
  • Stretching and mobility
  • Improving mobility
  • KYMIRA® and mobility

Even though mobility plays a key role in injury prevention it is undervalued by many athletes and coaches. This article offers several suggestions to help improve mobility...



The difference between flexibility and mobility…

Flexibility and mobility aren’t the same thing, so before we go any further let’s explain the difference…

Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion, for example when stretching. It’s not having to do any work, merely yield to the forces applied to it.

Mobility is the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion. This means maintaining strong and stable positions under load, so the joint allows a full range of controlled movement.

What does that mean in practice?

A flexible muscle can be stretched a long way, but a mobile muscle can move a long way whilst maintaining a good position. Think of a weightlifter for example – at the bottom of a clean, they need excellent mobility to maintain a stable position and complete the lift.

How do we train to improve muscular mobility?

The first step in training for muscular mobility is improving tissue elasticity, which we achieve by increasing blood flow. You do this with a warm up, but if you wear KYMIRA® clothing, this is a much quicker process because the fabric stimulates the production of nitric oxide in the body, which increases blood flow [1].

The outcome we’re looking for is an increase flexibility and control through a range of movement.

There is good evidence that foam rolling and myofascial release techniques are helpful at increasing the flexibility and ranges of movement around joints. When training to improve muscular mobility, foam rolling ahead of movement sessions is helpful to extend the possible range of movement. Research shows that by combining foam rolling and stretching, range of movement is increased more effectively than foam rolling or stretching alone [2].

Improving muscular mobility is best achieved when full range of movement is achieved in the resistance training sessions. Partial ranges of movement defeat the object entirely.

Research has disproven the previously held belief that resistance training reduces flexibility. Various studies have highlighted that resistance training can in fact, improve flexibility – in some cases, they may improve flexibility as much as static stretching [3][4]. To achieve our goal of improving muscular mobility however, we have to ensure that a full range of movement is achieved with each lift.

The goal isn’t to lift heavy, it’s to lift well through to end range of movement, with control throughout.

Won’t stretching alone work for improving mobility?

No, it won’t. Stretching will increase flexibility of muscles, but mobility is about movement, not simply the ability of a muscle to stretch. A 2013 study looked at the effect increasing improving hip flexibility has on functional movement. The study concluded that ‘results indicate that changes in passive range of movement or core endurance do not automatically transfer to changes in functional movement patterns.’ [5].

In English, this means that to improve mobility there must be a movement element to the training. For example, if you’re looking to improve hip and knee mobility when squatting, simply stretching won’t be enough. There’ll have to be squat patterns with increasing loads and time spent at end range (full achievable depth).

The results highlight that there’s an efficiency within muscular mobility training in that it can be combined with standard strength training. Coaches and athletes can use the warmup and lighter sets to focus on mobility and flexibility, before increasing the weight to work on strength and power.

Improving mobility, the evidence-based way

Follow these 5 steps to improve your mobility…

  1. Wear infrared clothing to enhance tissue elasticity
  2. Warm up to improve blood flow and ease of movement
  3. Combine foam rolling and stretching
  4. Lift light weights through a full range of motion
  5. Spend time increasing weights lifted, especially at end range (limit of functional movement)

This practice, 4-5 times per week will help a lot. The good news is that it can be practiced in a normal session so won’t take up any more training time. Use the first few light sets of an exercise to work on muscular mobility.

KYMIRA® helps the process

Infrared improves blood flow, which translates into helping improve range of movement, reducing injury risk and enhancing tissue elasticity. In the KYMIRA® clothing range there are garments to cover the whole body, so it doesn’t matter if you’re working on upper, mid or lower body mobility, we’ve got you covered.

KYMIRA® technology has helped athletes win world and Olympic titles. It helps to enhance the performances of athletes from a huge range of sports. It could help you too.

To view the KYMIRA® range and learn more about the science behind our products, visit…

www.kymirasport.com

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