There are so many different mobility exercises athletes need, but only so much time in a day (even less in a workout session). With our athletes, each session is an hour and we have to pick which exercises are most important and will get them to perform the best.
Mobility is meant to proactively address a problem before it becomes an issue. And, yes, there is a difference between mobility and stretching. The primary purpose of mobilization is to improve the position of the joint, thereby increasing power output, which will increase performance. There are a few techniques that are used most often to gain mobility.
Soft Tissue Work: There are many ways to do soft tissue mobility work. The most common and accessible are foam rollers, massage sticks, and lacrosse balls. Of course, you can seek professionals to help with this such as massages, and chiropractors that do Active Release Techniques (ART).
Stretching: Usually in order to complete a successful stretch you will have to hold the stretch for 30 seconds, although I agree more with holding a stretch for a full minute. Some say this extra 30-second hold has a significant scientific impact. And, static stretching is not the only form of stretching. PNF or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching is a set of techniques used in clinical environments to enhance both active and passive range of motion in order to improve motor performance. This is a great way to lengthen a muscle as well.
Joint Mobilization: Simply put, joint mobilization uses bands to add distraction to stretch the joint capsule itself.
Mobility has been a great addition to the strength training community and one that was perfected and brought to surface by Kelly Starrett. It is not as simple as, “Hey, stretch your hamstrings!” It can take an approach from different angles, using different modalities, to make sure the joint increases in mobility. Keep an eye out for our videos on Facebook and Instagram for examples of what these modalities look like.
The three most important mobility exercises we like to focus on at Fast Twitch Training are:
Hamstrings: Hamstrings for every reason in the book. You have to be able to touch your toes as a basic level of fitness in order to perform strength exercises. Tight hamstrings also hinder stride length when sprinting.
Ankles: I have yet to meet a person who cannot benefit from ankle mobility. I see this as a problem mostly in squatting and jumping.
Thoracic Spine Mobility: Well, the spine is a pretty key part of the body. I think it is very important to make sure it stays loose and mobile as we use it all the time and especially in sports the spine takes on a lot of work.
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