As an adult, it can be mortifying to see a toddler or youngster fall down. Yet, somehow, it seems they’re always up and at it again as if nothing happened. The initial scare happens because mobility diminishes as our bodies age, and we project the hurt and potential damage the accident would have on our adult bodies onto the child we see. The reality is that younger bodies have a great deal of mobility, flexibility, and resilience, and it’s imperative to keep that up for as long as possible to avoid injuries and maximize performance.
We know flexibility and strength training go hand in hand, but how can working on mobility improve our lives day-to-day?
While flexibility is defined as our muscle’s ability to be elastic, much like a rubber-band, mobility is defined as the ability for our joints to have a full range of motion. Physical therapist Joe Vega points out that in order to have good mobility, flexibility has to be trained as well. This is because lack of mobility due to aging is a result of weakening flexibility that restricts joint movement. Low mobility can increase the risk of injury on the shoulders, hips, knees, and just about every part of the body that uses a joint to move. Even if you exercise with high intensity interval training routinely, it is important to ensure that your mobility is in tip top shape, as low mobility could cause physical damage, reversing the effects of the workout.
If you’re in need of some mobility fitspiration, look no further than bodybuilding champion Ernestine Shepherd. She began exercising at the young age of 70, and eleven years later she has won countless bodybuilding competitions and continues to train women of any age to be fit, flexible and mobile.
It can seem tedious to try and maintain proper mobility on top of the HIIT routines you may be doing along with the rest of your busy schedule, but there are some foolproof ways you can fit it in. One way is to find workouts you can do at home.
Like exercises for muscle flexibility, there are a lot of mobility exercises that don’t require any workout equipment to implement. Finding a couple of joint mobility routines to cycle through each night before bed is a great way to relax your body, and coupling those routines with flexibility training will even more effectively maintain your youthful spirit. Some good options include the traveling butterfly stretch, frog stretch, pigeon stretch, and kneeling lunge.
Another way to keep up your mobility training is to find an online community of people with the same goals as your own. There is a lot of evidence that points towards a fitness community being beneficial to maintaining adherence to a workout routine, and there are many people seeking to enhance their mobility training. Reach out to friends and family to educate them about mobility and make plans to keep each other on track, whether that means training together or checking in and encouraging each other’s progress.
Mobility should not be sacrificed for the sake of putting more time into strength training routines. It is a part of a larger fitness goal that involves maintaining a healthy and youthful body for as long as possible, which, based on Shepherd’s progress, could be a very, very long time.