Before we get started…
Over the last few months you may have noticed the posters on our walls for our new class setting: Mobility Solution.
What exactly is this class and how could you benefit from it?
This is a question I think many clients have and one I will try to provide some clarity on in the following paragraphs.
Before we get started, I want to stress that this blog is not intended to be an advertisement. The goal here is to provide education and an explanation on how Mobility Solution could fit into your fitness routine and why we are so excited and passionate about its place in our program.
One of the most common debates in the fitness industry today is that of stability versus mobility. “Experts” on both sides argue that one is more important than the other for achieving optimal physical function.
Like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
In order to achieve the highest level of physical fitness, you need both mobility and stability, in addition to strength. In the absence of any of these three traits, the body will not function as efficiently as it otherwise could.
DEFINING each characteristic is necessary before we can talk about the inter-relationship of any of them.
STRENGTH is a concept most people intuitively understand fairly well. The textbook definition of muscular strength is the maximum amount of force that a muscle can exert against resistance. In real life, this may translate into being able to go skiing without feeling like you got hit by a truck the next day; being able to lift your toddler over your head and place them on your shoulders; or being able to help your friend move out of their house without feeling like you are there solely for moral support. Most people understand and appreciate the importance of being strong when it comes to living a long, healthy and fulfilling life. The problem is that strength alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee any of this.
MOBILITY and STABILITY are also equally important parts of the equation. Since most recreational exercisers intuitively understand the importance of strength but not so much stability and mobility, it is often the latter two traits where people run into problems.
Mobility can be defined as the ability to move a joint through a complete range of motion, pain-free, without restriction. Through the various stresses of life (sitting in the same position at work all day, doing the same repetitive activities, injury, etc.) we invariably develop restrictions that limit mobility and impact quality of life if not addressed. Without proper mobility through the shoulders and upper back, for example, the chances of being able to lift your kid over your head and place them on your shoulders without resulting in pain or injury is slim. Many of us may have the strength to do this activity but mobility could be the limiting factor.
Stability would seem to imply strength when in actuality “motor control” or “body awareness” are more accurate ways of thinking about it. Stability is achieved when all of the small stabilizing muscles are working in synergy with the larger primary movers. When lifting a child over your head, you must not only have the strength and mobility to do so, but the small rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder must also hold the arm firmly in place to provide stability for the movement. In an optimal situation, this stability is provided without purposeful thought but by reflex. Unfortunately, many of the same environmental factors that can lead to loss of mobility can also lead to a loss of the reflexive action of stabilization. This eventually leads to pain or injury.
Take Home Message
Neither strength, mobility, nor stability is completely effective in isolation of one another.
In order to optimize your program it is important to incorporate all three exercise modalities into your fitness routine.
In Strength Solution and Weight Loss Solution we work largely on the strengthening side of the equation with some inherent improvement in body control and stability as well. However, mobility is not really touched upon in these settings, when for many of us this is where we lack the most. This is no fault of the class; mobility is simply not the objective here.
In Mobility Solution, the focus is placed on improving or maintaining mobility while also providing significant education on body awareness (stability). By becoming more mobile and having better control over your small stabilizing muscles, you will be better equipped to meet your goals regardless of what they are and live a healthy, active, pain-free life.