September 21, 2021
A good level of mobility makes you a better athlete. You’ll suffer fewer injuries and enjoy better performance. Here’s how you can improve your mobility.
To kick this article off, let’s start with some definitions.
Many athletes I speak with often get confused and think flexibility and mobility are the same. They’re not.
Flexibility refers to your connective tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) ability to temporality elongate.
Mobility is the ability of your joints to move freely through their full range of motion without pain or compensation.
Range Of Motion
Range of motion (ROM) is the measurement of movement around a specific joint or body part.
While all are important and each impacts the other, mobility is most important for endurance athletes.
If you can’t move through the normal ranges of motion required when swimming, cycling and running, you’re not going to swim, ride, or run as fast.
Mobility is vital for performance and staying healthy, as well as keeping you injury-free. That’s because mobility affects how you swim, ride and run. If you have poor mechanics, that negatively impacts everything you do as an athlete.
Mobility most affects runners and triathletes in these areas …
Sufficient mobility in these major joints and strength is the solution to most injury problems and will help you train pain-free and race to the highest level of your competency.
In short, all runners and triathletes should do some form of mobility training.
If you’re injury-prone, work a desk job where you’re seated for hours each day, or are an older athlete, mobility training is even more essential for you.
Mobility doesn’t come fast. You need to work at it consistently.
The good news is that it is easy to incorporate mobility into your routine because it includes many elements of a structured training plan.
Triathletes have this baked into their sport because they swim, bike and run out of necessity, but runners often focus exclusively on running. Lots of low-intensity running will not help to improve your mobility so mix things up. Strength training is an excellent form of cross-training for runners.
Form drills in swim, bike, and run allow you to work on the movement patterns of each sport in an exaggerated way that takes you through a full range of motion.
Dynamic warm-up exercises are literally mobility training. They help activate your muscles and move you through a larger range of motion than simply swimming, cycling, or running.
Foam rollers, stretching, and massage guns help release tight muscles and increase your flexibility and range of motion.
Running on more technical terrain like trails, grass, or sand requires more mobility than running on the road.
Research shows that strength training — particularly the eccentric, or lengthening, phase of a movement under load — is a great way to improve flexibility and mobility.
I encourage you to look for ways to include mobility training into your weekly schedule. Some methods are easier than others, but any will have an impact.
Start with the most simple ones for you to implement and gradually progress as you begin to see the benefits of increased mobility.