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What Is Mobility and Why Is It Important?


Mobility isn’t a new concept, but you might be surprised to learn it’s more than just stretching.

Mobility isn’t a new concept, but it certainly feels like the up-and-coming popular wellness buzzword — and for good reason. Mobility is more than just stretching.

What Is Mobility?

Mobility involves the joints and their movement in relation to their full range of motion. Simply put, your mobility determines how easily and efficiently you can move. Think of it like this: How far can you squat down without falling over or being in pain? Your depth is determined mostly by your mobility, which affects your range of motion in this movement. Is this movement difficult for you? If so, you may need to work on your mobility.

Why Is Mobility Important?

Mobility is important because it affects your ability to move freely throughout your daily activities without pain and strain, even outside of strenuous movements like squatting. The ease of daily activities like putting a box up on a shelf, picking up a baby or stepping over a puddle are all related to mobility. Your body will compensate for limited mobility, leaving you at risk for injury. It’s important to have a healthy range of motion to be able to move without potential strain or force. Poor mobility can cause even a low-stakes movement, such as stepping over a puddle, to result in injury if it pushes your joints past their capable limits.

Movement outside of everyday life, like weight lifting, climbing, running, spinning and yoga, are also heavily affected by your ease of movement and range of motion. Not only is injury prevention of utmost importance during physical activity, but your level of training, performance and potential progress are affected when poor mobility is at play. Increased mobility means increased potential to train harder, which leads to more growth and results.

How to Increase Your Mobility

Whether you’re in your living room vacuuming a tough-to-reach spot or you’re in the gym deadlifting, healthy mobility allows for physical independence throughout the lifecycle. You can also add mobility to the list of healthy habits that reduce stress. Mobility movements help to reduce and relieve stress that builds up with physical activity and sitting at your desk all day. There are so many great reasons to make mobility a priority in your life.

Here are some ways to increase and improve your mobility, starting today:

Start with adding mobility stretching to your list of daily healthy habits, like brushing your teeth or drinking water. We often don’t realize we need to upkeep healthy routines until it’s too late (AKA, you get injured). Put this on your mental to-do list until it becomes second nature.

If you’re thinking this seems like something totally new and out of reach, the good news is you may be incorporating some mobility-friendly movements already, like rolling out after a workout or stretching out your neck with neck circles in your desk chair. If not, try some of these ideas:

    • Use a foam roller or a small ball like a tennis ball on areas that need some work. This can improve lactic acid buildup and allow the muscle to relax more, improving mobility of joints in that area.
    • Practice mindful breathing as you flow through your movements. Breath-to-movement connection can help relax tension and allow more ease of movement.
    • Mobility exercises are the best way to improve mobility. It’s different from static stretching because you typically move during the exercise instead of holding a pose. Try some of these feel-good moves: Neck half circles, floor windmills for your thoracic spine, ankle circles, standing arm swings and shoulder pass throughs for your rotator cuffs, and hip circles and lying clam shells for your hips.