The human body is pretty incredible. It’s an absolute marvel of evolution that has over many years that has enabled us to jump higher, run faster, and even accomplish feats that were once thought impossible.
The recent Olympic games has shown us just what the human body is capable of, from a marathon completed in just over 2 hours, to a 100m sprint in just 9.81s. We even witnessed weightlifters lifting over triple their bodyweight in the clean and jerk.
Now, while most of us (and even The Foundry coaching team!) can only dream of performing to such remarkable levels, we should all be able to execute these movements comfortably without any pain. Now, if the thought of sprinting makes your lower back tremble in fear, and the idea of lifting weights overhead causes your shoulders to want to run and hide, or squatting makes you feel more like a human deckchair folding in half, then mobility could be the main factor hindering your performance.
Although human evolution has done a fantastic job of getting us to where we are, our environment has evolved far faster and not always for the better. Modern life has us driving cars, squeezing onto packed trains with heavy bags over one shoulder, working away at desks for hours on end only for us to spend our evenings slumped on the sofa switching between looking down at our phones and up at the TV. All of this causes us to have a strained neck, shoulders that face inwards, slumped posture, rounded backs, tight hips, and terrible flexibility in our hamstrings.
Now if we combine these effects of the modern lifestyle with exercise, what happens? When we perform physical activity, we often move against gravity, whether that is from running or lifting weights. Now, gravity only moves in a straight line, and that line points down, so if we aren’t aligned correctly when exercising due to poor mobility, we end up putting strain on the wrong areas of the body.
Lets take a squat for example, if I have tight hips from sitting at a desk all day, and then attempt a squat, instead of sitting back and down though my hips as I’m supposed to, once I reach the limited range of motion in my hips, my upper body will start to tilt forwards rather than remaining upright. This means that instead of the hips acting as a hinge as they’re supposed to, my lower back now takes over.
Why is this a problem? Well, it may shock you to learn that over 98% of injuries to our skeletons, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and joints are preventable. That’s right, for most of us our injuries, pains and niggles are a result of our lifestyles, yet our activities bear the brunt of the blame.
So, now that we know how important mobility is, how do we improve it? Well, you’ll be glad to know that a simple routine that only requires a foam roller and a massage/tennis ball and takes just 10 minutes can get help you make some serious improvements to your mobility. This routine, called the Agile 8, comes from renowned trainer Joe DeFranco, and he even has a more in depth version called the Limber 11 for those of you who really want to say goodbye to back pain and sore shoulders.
I strongly suggest implementing either one of these routines into your day. I personally do these at home whilst watching TV or listening to a Podcast so it isn’t something I feel I have to make time for. They are also brilliant as warm ups to get you ready for a gym session, and would be absolutely ideal for those of you about to hit a LIFT or City Strongman session!
If you haven’t got the hint yet, mobility is pretty damn important, which is why we created the STRETCH class down at The Foundry. We like to see our members moving freely and without pain, so if you haven’t already tried a STRETCH class, get booked on and start reaping the benefits of improved human movement!