Are You Focusing Enough on Mobility in Workouts?

You should not experience joint pain when you perform activities of daily living (known as ADL’s). How does your body feel during a typical day? Do you feel pain when you move your hips, shoulders or knees through their full range of motion? Take the shoulder joint as an example. When you perform shoulder flexion, extension, rotation, or for that matter internal or external rotation, are those movements pain free? Do you have joint pain when working out? If pain is present, there may be an issue with the mobility of that joint.

What is Mobility?

In order to better understand mobility you first have to grasp what flexibility is. Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or group of muscles to stretch when needed. Conversely, mobility is the ability of a joint to actively move through its expected range of motion. Both flexibility and mobility change over the course of time. Think of both as nourishment for your body; flexibility keeps the muscles happy and healthy while good mobility leads to happy and healthy joints, like your hips and spine. When moving and doing any type of activity, good flexibility and mobility are associated with pain free movement in the muscles and joints respectively.

Never Enough Time for Mobility

When you go for a run or have a great strength training session, you feel the benefits of each immediately. This may not be the case, at times, for mobility. You need to put the time in each day to work on improving mobility now so it continues to pay back dividends as you age. Take 5-10 minutes before each workout and work on the areas that you feel like your lacking mobility.

Begin with areas on your body where you experience the most pain. This along with limited joint range of motion are key ingredients that will eventually lead to dysfunction and it needs your attention, now!

Check for Mobility Issues with Simple Testing

A previous Jefit blog post looked at the pressure placed on the back when sitting, standing and walking. Read that post to better understand how heavy loads placed on the body can effect the spine. Keep in mind you can kill two birds with one stone here, start using mobility drills to act first as a warm-up while also working on mobility.

Apley’s Scratch Test

  • To test your mobility of your right shoulder, stand up and raise your left arm straight above your head (see picture below).
  • Flex your left elbow placing your left palm on the upper back and neck area, then slide it down between your shoulder blades.
  • Take your right hand and reach behind your body so the top part of your hand rests on the middle of your back.
  • Reach down with your left hand while reaching up with your right. The goal is to try to touch the fingers of both hands together.
  • Have someone measure the distance between your fingertips. If your fingers are touching or overlapping, record that as good.
  • Now switch arms and test your opposite shoulder.
Right shoulder Apley Scratch Test – testing shoulder mobility

If you’re like me and have a few inches of separation between your fingers (see picture above), you need to work on improving shoulder mobility. Begin by using a foam roller regularly to rollout the upper back and shoulder areas. Hanging from a pull-up bar with both hands, progress to single-arm hangs for 15-30 seconds and repeat for a few sets. Next, stretch the shoulder capsule daily performing a posterior capsule stretch followed by a tricep stretch. You can use a yoga strap to help stretch and close the gap between your fingers. This is a good first step before adding in occasional vibration work, massage and myofascial release.

Kneeling Thoracic Mobility

The mid-back or thoracic spine (T-spine) is an area that is restricted in most people especially those who do a great deal of sitting or driving. The key here is to first release any tight fascia around the mid back area. The best bet is to perform foam rolling or “rolling out” on taped tennis balls or a lacrosse ball. After loosening the area, try the following mobility drill. If you have difficulty or feel “resistance” rotating your body while moving your elbow up towards the ceiling, you need to work on T-spine mobility.

  • Start in a quadruped position (on all fours).
  • Touch your left hand to the left side of your head.
  • Exhale. As you breath in rotate your body and raise that left elbow up towards the ceiling, keeping the hand in contact with the head throughout.
  • As you’re doing this, push the right into the floor. Think about your mid-back during this dynamic movement.
  • Slowly return to the starting position, following your breath. Move to the speed of your inhale/exhale. Repeat for repetitions.

Simple Hip Mobility Test

The area that many people have trouble with is hip mobility. Mobility issues or dysfunction in this area typically leads to other major issues like back-related problems. A good first step is to add in hip mobility drills as part of your dynamic warm-up prior to every strength or cardio workout. Then foam roll 5-10 minutes hitting the upper thigh before lying side ways to roll the gluteus medius. Finally, position yourself on the foam roller to target the inner thigh and roll out that area before lying supine rolling out your gluteus maximus. Then try this quick test to assess hip mobility.

  • Sit tall in a chair with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Without using your hands, see if you can lift and cross your right leg over your left? Then try the same on the opposite side (you should be able to).
  • After attempting that, position the right ankle above your left knee that is bent (like in the picture below).
  • Take a few deep breaths in/out and relax.
  • Now take a look at the angle of the right leg that is crossed.
  • If the leg feels comfortable and drops below a 45-degree angle or is parallel to the floor, you’re in good shape.
  • Most people, however, will have a 45-degree angle or greater and feel tightness in the hip complex. Is so, you guessed it…work on hip mobility.
blank
A quick and easy hip mobility test

These are just three of the many tests you can do on yourself to assess where you’re at mobility wise. Mobility work must become a component of your weekly exercise routine. There may be days where your body just needs to skip a workout and rollout and work on mobility drills. Your body and performance will love you for it. Stay strong and mobile with Jefit.

blank

Simple Body Hacks to Improve Performance

blank

The majority of people who exercise or engage in individual or team sports often looks for ways to improve performance. With that, brings us to how we can better “hack” our body to improve performance, some also call this DIY science….biohacking. Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the company Bulletproof, defines biohacking as “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” 

Why Try to Hack Your Body Anyway?

There are many people out there who try to hack their body to improve performance, on some level. They do this basically because they have a strong desire to feel better and to see just how far they can push the human body. A lot of people are hacking their body essentially to try and live as long as possible. Dave Asprey as an example, has been quoted as saying he wants to live to 180 years old.

Another well-known body or bio hacker is Tim Ferris, author of the best-selling book, The 4-Hour Body. Ferris has a well known reputation for trying to hack just about everything related to his body. Why does he do it? This Wired interview explains why.

Now that you have a better understanding of what trying to hack your body is all about, check this out.

blank
Mindful breath work effects everything from mediation to sports performance.

Breath Work: An Easy Way to Improve Performance

We all know how to breath intuitively and how importance breathing is since it gives us life. Go beyond this for a moment and listen to this great Wild Ideas podcast from REI. The podcast, comes out every other Monday, and just featured author, James Nestor, author a new book, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. The book comes out in May. The podcast talked about his years of doing research and talking to medical experts on the science of breathing. He offers up some great easy-to-follow tips that you can use right now. I actually tried his 6-second breath technique on my morning walk today. You can try this when seated (or like me, walking). Take in a long, slow breath through your nose only, for 5-6 seconds. Then exhale slowly for the same amount of time and try this for about 6 repetitions. The goal of this type of breathing, is to help more nitric oxide enter your body and tissues. It’s been reported that when you breathe through your nose, nasal resistance increases by 200% and this helps the release of oxygen. If you were wondering, mouth breathing does not let your body take advantage of the sinuses production of nitric oxide.

Nasal Versus Mouth Breathing

Try closing your mouth and just breath slowly in/out through your nose for about minute. According to a lot of the science out there, “breathing through your nose is one of the most beneficial things you can do for the overall health of your body and for your longevity.” This is what Nestor talks about in his book and in the podcast. You may already know the value of breath work, if you practice yoga on a regular basis. Think about this for a minute. How great would it be if we could get a legitimate boost in performance by simply breathing slowly through our nose? Listen to the podcast and give it a shot. For additional reading, check this great article out on the science of breathing by Sarah Novotny and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. and this research paper on effects of nasal breathing in runners.

There are many experts and researchers who think breath work should become a component in health & fitness model. Meaning, you work on strength, flexibility, cardio, nutrition, etc. – why not also incorporate breath work as part of your daily routine?

Mobility: Unlock Tight Hips to Improve Performance

We typically spend a great deal of our time in the gym pushing weights or doing cardio. One key area that often gets overlooked is mobility. Mobility can be defined as freedom of movement without pain through a full range of motion. Mobility exercises can be done as a warm-up if you’re always rushed for time. They are great for reducing joint pain, improving a fuller range of motion and can even reduce the chance of injury. We all know tight muscles and connective tissue are an accident waiting to happen.

When you want to squat, lunge, or lift weights better, mobility work is key, especially when it comes to the hips. You may have limited hip mobility because of an old injury, you don’t work on mobility or you may sit or drive all day for work. In any event, tight hips can cause, over time, a chain reaction resulting in dysfunctional movement. Over time your hip joints will become tight if not addressed appropriately, you’ll begin to notice issues when performing exercises like Squats and Deadlifts.

What are Some of the Better Hip Exercises to do?

There are a lot of different directions you could go here. This is an opportunity to use the Jefit app and perform this series of exercises. Complete each exercise below slowly, working through a full range of motion. Perform each exercise as a hip and glute warm-up prior to working out and you’ll eventually see an improvement in hip mobility. Some may not be pure hip mobility drills but doing these will in turn improve glute/hip function. Perform each exercise for 30-seconds then move to the next and repeat the circuit twice.

blank
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank
blank