But there’s one aspect of training you may be less familiar with. One that often gets overlooked but is essential for both physical fitness and optimal health, so you’re pain- and injury-free in all areas of your daily life, not just while working out. It’s important whether you’re a seasoned cycler or just starting your fitness journey, whether you’re a young mom or in your 50s or 60s and looking to stay active and age well.
What is this mysterious training modality? It’s mobility.
“Mobility refers to the ability of a joint to move freely through its full range of motion,” explains MYX coach Lauren Sambataro. “If you have good mobility, you’re able to move functionally and efficiently with little to no restrictions or difficulty.” Mobility isn’t the same as flexibility, which refers to how much a muscle can extend or stretch; however tight (inflexible) muscles can prevent joints from reaching their full range of motion. “If one area of the body has less mobility, then that can create imbalances in the body, making you more prone to injury,” Lauren says.
According to The American Council on Exercise (ACE), mobility encompasses joint mobility and stability, both of which are essential for proper movement. Good mobility is the cornerstone of fitness and good health because it allows the body to move correctly. Without it, your postural stability can become compromised, and your body will start to compensate by moving in ways that increase your risk of pain and injury—whether you’re doing a tough MYX workout or simply walking to the mailbox.
COVID has been bad news for our bodies.
The pandemic has kept us cooped up for almost a year now. Not only have we not been moving as much as we usually would, but also many of our improvised WFH setups would make a physical therapist (and your MYX coaches) weep.
Maybe you’re hunching over your computer at your dining room table. (Maybe you’re doing it right now.) "When your shoulders roll forward, there is compensation up and down the chain including a tight/weak neck, tight abdominals and hip flexors, and a weakened/lengthened posterior chain from the spine down to the glutes,” explains coach Lauren. Also, many women cross their legs while they work, which is bad news for your lower back and spine and can predispose you to hip pain over time. “If you cross your right leg over left, for instance, the muscles on right side get lengthened while the muscles on the left side get shortened" — definitely no way to love up your body.
Lucky for us, the fixes are fairly simple—a good reason to include mobility exercises in your training starting…now. “A dedication to a consistent mobility practice keeps the body in balance, out of pain, and optimally strong for the next workout,” Lauren says. “When you’re not using the full range of motion that your body is capable of, you’ll start to lose your mobility and create a tight, imbalanced body. You lose what you don’t use!”
Here are 3 mobility exercises Lauren recommends that target hips, shoulders, and spine.
Start seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your hands behind you, allow the knees to drop to one side and then the other. Progression: Keep your hands on your knees the entire time.
Repeat the movement for 1 minute.
Laying prone (face down) on the floor, arms out to a T position, with the legs straight and flat against the floor. Lift one leg up and cross it to the other side of the body, reaching the foot/ankle toward the floor (the knee will start to point up to the ceiling). Alternate sides keeping the forehead down and the arms pressing into the floor throughout.
Aim for 10-20 reps each side.
Starting in a beast position (child’s pose with hands extended in front, feet flexed and toes curled under, and the knees an inch or two off the floor), drive the hips forward into an Upward Dog position, lifting the chin and chest up toward the ceiling (or the front of the room). Alternate between these two positions while keeping the navel to the spine, and hands and feet pressing into the floor.
Work up to 10-20 reps.
For a full, 15-minute mobility training session, check out this workout from Erika Shannon-Hathaway, MYX Director of Fitness.