Mobility is the ability to move through a range of motion, or movement, showing control throughout the effort. This is not to be confused with flexibility, a passive range of motion at a given joint. Mobility is synonymous with moving well.
If an athlete can perform an Air Squat to a depth below parallel, weight in the heels, knees tracking in line with toes and a neutral spine we know they have sufficient mobility to perform that task. In essence, mobility shows control and stability whilst moving in any given task.
Mobility requires adequate flexibility coupled with stability and motor control.
A degree of mobility is required in any given movement. Some movements require less (Bench Press) and some require more (Overhead Squat), but if a movement is performed well, control through the range of motion is a must.
Practising movements, developing flexibility and working on soft tissue issues (knots in the muscle etc) all play a role and can improve our mobility. An easy way to think about mobility is ‘do I have the skill and strength to control the flexibility I have?’
If I am lacking flexibility, it does not matter how strong I am, as I cannot reach the required range of motion (i.e not going low enough in a squat).
If I have adequate flexibility but not enough strength or control I may put myself in positions that I cannot move out of, or may even be less safe (i.e. going too low in a back squat and getting stuck).
These 3 factors (flexibility, strength and control) act as a guide of how to improve my mobility. The area in which I am weakest requires the most attention in order to catch up and balance out the system. If I have great flexibility and love stretching, guesses are you could improve mobility better by focusing on strength or stability work. If I have plenty of strength but struggle to find a full range of motion, if I work on my flexibility, my overall mobility will improve.
Mobility should be a daily focus, improving positions allows us to move faster, lift heavier and stay safe. Developing your mobility will be dependant on what you are missing, strength, stability or flexibility (or all 3).
As with all things, make a plan to attack where you are deficient, improve then reassess what else could use your focus.
Joe, DISTRICT Head Coach