Mobility vs stretching
MOBILITY VS STRETCHING
"I want to do a lower squat, but I can’t do it." Many people have big problems with joint mobility nowadays. Lack of proper ranges of motion can result in overburdening and, consequently, pain. What should you do then? Stretch? Be more physically active? Or maybe something else? In the following post we will try to explain what needs to be done in order to improve our range of movement. And most importantly - make the improvement permanent.
STATIC OR DYNAMIC STRETCHING?
Research indicates that static stretching has many pros, but also has one major disadvantage. If we do it before training, our strength and power is reduced by a few to a dozen or so percent. For an amateur athlete this is a small difference, but for a professional it may result in a defeat. The point is that this type of warm-up does not provide the adequate blood supply to the muscles, so it’s easier to get injured. Before training, the body should be prepared in a dynamic way, through various types of movements in full ranges. Dynamic joint activity will be very useful here to prepare our joints for the upcoming effort.
Does this mean that classic stretching is unnecessary? Of course not. After training, we should relax our nervous system and the stretching method that all of us know will be perfect for that. It is also worth paying attention to a correct breathing method, which will stimulate our autonomic system and calm our body.
I STRETCH, BUT I STILL HAVE PROBLEMS WITH CERTAIN EXERCISES
Despite stretching regularly, some people still can’t reach certain ranges of movements during exercise. Why is this happening? Perhaps your muscles, in the simplest words, are too weak. If our muscles are not properly trained, they will not "allow" certain positions. This is because our body protects itself against potential damage. Our nervous system must process this movement and "come to the conclusion" that doing a deep squat, for example, will not be dangerous for us. Strong muscles will help in this situation. So it's worth to try other exercises and strengthen our body through easier movements.
GOOD RANGE OF MOVEMENT AND GENETICS
There are people who even immediately after getting up from a desk are able to easily touch the floor with their hands. There are two explanations for this. The first one actually speaks of genetic predispositions, i.e. some people have a greater % of elastin protein content in their tissues than others. This protein is much more elastic than collagen - most of which our muscles are built from - and that is why those people are more flexible than others. The second explanation of this phenomenon is how often we use our full ranges of motion. It is said that “an unused organ disappears". It's the same with our movement capabilities. Just look at children. From young age, kids don’t have the slightest problems with doing, for example, a full squat. Among teenagers, however, problems with achieving the "ass to grass" (ASG) squat already touches a majority. The sedentary lifestyle affects our mobility negatively. We tend to not exercise our joints to their full capabilities. That’s why our joint capsules and the nervous system adapt to reduced mobility and do not allow us to use our bodies to their full potential.
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO BE PHYSICALLY WELL AND FLEXIBLE?
The answer to this question will vary from person to person, because each of us is different. However, you can try to follow several universal tips:
- Try to move and use the full capabilities your body in everyday life - not only at the gym or fitness class.
- Ensure that you do a proper warm-up and relax your body before and after training.
- Take care of proper muscle training. We do not have to be bodybuilders, but our bodies need to be functional.
- Before training, dynamically exercise the ranges of movements, which come to you with difficulty. This will prevent negative compensation in other joints during exercise.
- After proper body preparation, let's try to use the previously stretched body parts during training exercises.
- Try to ensure proper regeneration of the body. It’s the quality of movement, not quantity that counts.
If you do not know how you should stretch or stay active – our mobile application will help you soon
- Serra A.J. at al. (2013) Experience in resistance training does not prevent the reduction in muscle strength by evoked by passive static stretching. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2013, Aug; 27 (8): 2304-8
- Boyle M. (2016) New Functional Training for Sports, Human Kinetics Publishers
- Boyle M. (2011) Advances in Functional Training, Lotus Publishing