The Inertia

 

When you’re young and athletic, it can be easy to start thinking you’re invulnerable. You don’t get injured much or at all and can spend hours slaying pow, busting shore breaks or whatever your activity of choice is without getting super sore. Then with, little recovery, you go out the next day and do it again. But then one day you get the dreaded groin pull or tweak your lower back. As you get older, such things start happening more and more and you notice that you can’t bounce back as quickly or go as hard as you once did. What the heck is going on? There could be multiple factors in play, including lack of quality sleep, poor nutritional choices or the stressful hustle of working two jobs.

There’s no magic bullet fix, but one thing you should consider is adding 10 minutes of mobility work a day. You probably hear the term “flexibility” a lot, but mobility is a bit different and more accurate. It means the ability to express your full physiology by getting into all the basic shapes we humans are capable of and controlling your movement with integrity once you’re in these positions. Here are 3 benefits you can get from just 10 minutes a day of basic mobility maintenance on your joints and soft tissues:

Enhanced Performance

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The new shoes that Nike and Adidas recently released to help elite runners break the two-hour marathon barrier claim to increase efficiency by two to three percent. This is a dubious assertion at best, but let’s say we give them the benefit of the doubt. What good is such a marginal gain going to give you if you’re missing 40 percent of normal hip extension or 30 percent hip flexion? Many of us have huge range of motion shortcomings. These can be lifestyle related, like sitting, cramping our hips into a chair for hours a day and so limiting mobility. Or an old injury that hampers us or simply due to the fact that we never so much as think how to recover our soft tissues after we exercise.

If you can’t get your arms over your head with palms facing each other, for example, you’re lacking external rotation and extension in the overhead position and are limiting your paddle stroke, basketball shot or ability to throw a ball. If you have a mobility limitation, you won’t be able to express all that strength, power, speed and endurance you spend so much time trying to build up. So stop leaving performance gains on the table, and find out how you stack up against basic movement standards in the book Becoming a Supple Leopard. Then start doing some daily mobility work on the muscles surrounding your trouble spots.

Reduced Injury Risk

Ninety-eight percent of injuries are preventable. Sure, there are those catastrophic and random events that can take you out, like sliding into a tree in the backcountry, getting clamped by a barrel or landing on someone’s foot in a pickup game, but these are in the minority. The risk of succumbing to the sprains, strains and other niggles that bedevil us, however, can be mitigated if you focus on just a couple of mobility exercises daily. If we have poor mechanics, like ducking our feet out when we jump and land or letting our knees cave in when we squat, we might be able to get away with it for a while, but eventually your body will say that enough’s enough and you will get injured. Similarly, if we’re exercising and not doing any soft tissue work, our muscles will get tighter and tighter. One day when we do something explosive like sprinting, we yank on those stiff tissues and they tear. It doesn’t need to get to this point if you regularly roll, smash and tack and floss those trouble spots. You can target the areas that you taxed most, like the hamstrings and quads after deadlifting or the sites of old injuries, but also try getting into new areas as well.

Improved Recovery

Do you ever feel like crap the day after a hard session or workout? Are you all stiff and sore all day, or maybe even if you were really getting after it, for a few days? This is pretty common and pretty frustrating. You can go a long way to overcoming such issues if you mobilize in the evening. Sitting around playing games with your kids? Put a lacrosse ball under your hamstring and flex and extend your knee. Binge watching on Netflix? Smash those sore calves. Got a work project to finish? Stand in front of your monitor and slowly roll a soft ball back and forth under your feet. These might seem like little things, but they’ll make you feel and perform a lot better tomorrow. Doing mobility work at night, particularly gut smashing that stimulates the vagus nerve, can help you sleep better.



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