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Improve your flexibility & mobility - it is vital
25 January 2018

For years I have been involved in semi-professionalFlexibility Tom A rugby and football, and I have noticed that although all team members put an extreme amount of stress on their bodies, the guys who do not regularly practice their flexibility and mobility drills really suffer during the season. They are often on the Physio bed instead of being on the pitch, and if you are a regular gym goer you will not progress if you cannot improve your range of motion in integral moves such as a squat. There is more to fitness than just pure strength or how fast you can run – flexibility and mobility matter too.

Mobility - How joints move. Flexibility - Length of a muscle
Essentially, think of mobility as an umbrella covering a range of factors that may affect the range of motion around a joint. One of these components is flexibility – it is difficult to move a joint, if the connected muscles around it do not stretch far enough to allow it. But there are other considerations that come into play as well, like not having the strength to perform the exercises, soft tissue damage (e.g. inflamed tendons), and even problems with other jointsFlexibility Tom B in the same chain of movement. So while an adequately stretched muscle may be conducive to a greater range of movement around a joint, it is basically useless if your mobility is constricted by other factors.

Common problem areas are the hips, shoulders, knees and upper back.

Foam Rolling. Sometimes excruciating but usually effective, foam rolling is essentially a self-massage technique to help you release tight spots in your muscles. This should be conducted prior to a training session, however doing this in the evening to aid recovery is also very beneficial.
Mobility Drills. These are exercises that are specifically geared towards improving your range of motion around joints. You should always carry out mobility drills before any training session, if you do not you are severely restricting your workout and over time you will get injured. Each drill should take no longer than 1-2Flexibility Tom C minutes on each area which you are targeting. 
Stretching. You should always allow time in your day to stretch. Before training, stretch the muscle groups that you are going to use for 30-45 seconds, this coinciding with your mobility drills. Then to really improve your flexibility, stretch in the evening before bed, but this time holding the stretches for 1-2 minutes. It is also a fantastic way to wind down after a long day and calm your mind to improve sleep.

As part of any programme I will always ensure a range of mobility and stretching is included in my sessions, and I teach clients how to do them in their own time.

Tom signoff25 January 2018

White Room Fitness
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