Building a Base for Athletic Success: Mobility
Next up in the Building a Base series is mobility. Mobility, like flexibility and strength, is a major part of building the elite athlete as well as developing the active child. Mobility is, to put it simply, the ability of the joints to move in a full range of motion. Some major contributors to lack of mobility in kids as well as adults is most often lack of movement. Sitting for hours on end creates lack of mobility in the hip joint. Constant forward posture leads to lack of shoulder mobility. The other cause of lack of mobility can be inflammation from injured tissue.
Why is this important to athletes? Lack of mobility leads to a lack of power development, quickness, and also increases the risk of injury. Since the joint cannot go through a full range of motion it cannot take full advantage of the stretch and contraction of muscle tissue which will limit the amount of power that can actually be created.
The next big dip in performance comes from lack of quickness or agility. Let’s use the hips for example. The hips are the most important part when it comes to most any sport. If you are not able to open up the hips when changing direction, it will take much longer to do so. An extra second to change directions can mean the difference between first and last place.
The last major problem that we see from lack of mobility is injury. The joint is meant to move a certain range, the muscles that move the limb about the joint are a reflection of that. If the mobility of the joint is decreased, not only are we putting more pressure on the surrounding muscle tissue, but we will also have to make up the movement somewhere. Let’s stay with the same example of the hips - if hip mobility is decreased, then often the small lower back muscles have to pick up the slack. These much smaller muscles are not meant to take those big loads and this will often lead to injury.