What does mobility mean to you? Does it mean being able to do flips, rolls and dives? Perhaps being able to run, jump, squat or walk? Maybe it just means being able to move from one spot to the next?
Mobility can look many ways and has many differing opinions on what it means. The word ‘mobility’ is defined as “the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.”
Freely and easily, those are the words that stand out to me. I feel like when we work on gaining mobility, we are searching for ways to move more freely and easily. To feel more comfortable and confident moving our body through space and performing the daily tasks necessary to keep our lives in a balanced order.
There are many ways mobility can look. A quick YouTube search of parkour or calisthenics can show you the extremes of mobility and where a structured practice in mobility could get you. Most of us however, don’t need to flip, climb, front lever and planche in order to get our groceries from the store. We do, though, need the ability to squat down, hinge at our hips, lift heavy objects and carry ourselves through the myriad of responsibilities we have in our personal and business lives.
Many of us move through our daily lives with pain, discomfort and looming injuries that could be avoided if given the proper time and attention. Most of the general population has sustained some degree of injury that has not been properly rehabilitated- tweaks, strains, sprains, even broken bones and poor movement mechanics that have begun to shape the body into modes of chronic misuse. This could present itself as rounded shoulders, a forward positioned head, outward turned feet or knees that cave in towards each other during squatting movements (knock knees).
How do we address these issues? How do we locate the root cause of the problem, instead of just the symptoms?
Science and Sports Medicine has been moving more towards a whole body approach when searching for such ailments, aptly named ‘The Regional Interdependence Model’. What current research has begun to find, is that pain in one location of the body is not typically dealt with when treatment is then focused on that specific area. For example, in cases of low back pain, it cannot be thoroughly solved by local treatment alone. The cause of these symptoms is often located elsewhere in the body, when talking of low back pain, the cause is often in tight hip flexors or tight calves.
This brings us to the terms titling this article, Underactive and Overactive muscles
Our body is in a constant state of activity, the autonomic side of digestion, chemical production and homeostasis, as well as a constant flow of energy to our muscles to keep us upright. Sometimes this flow of energy can become overactive, which cause imbalances in our joints by having a muscle on one side of the joint constantly pulling the joint out of place. This can happen at any of the joint locations in the body, as well as to multiple joints at once.
Locating the muscles that are overactive is one step in beginning the process of balancing our bodies. The other step, is finding which muscles aren’t firing enough and are thus, underactive. Which can happen from injury, or simply, lack of use. If you can’t feel your muscle, how can you engage it?
Creating a deeper mind body connection, learning how to activate your muscles in correct form and sequencing throughout all your movements will help to bring these imbalances to light, and in time, to rid your body of them.
Working with personal trainers who are trained in locating such imbalances can exponentially help allocate what parts of you needs time and attention and can help you to locate muscles you didn’t even know you had.
The journey of mobility is the journey of life, a constant daily effort of bringing to light what is currently in the dark. It doesn’t have to take a lot, but the more time you can give to gaining mobility and a deeper mind body connection through movement practices such as working out at a gym, doing yoga or other habitual movements that are performed with focus and intent, the more you will get out of your practices.
Give thought to your mobility, to your motion, how you move. Think about your posture, your mechanics when completing daily tasks. Get external feedback from a trained professional and take your body seriously! As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Coach Jordan Ament
Certified Personal Trainer-Corrective Exercise Specialist