The body is an amazing thing. It can heal itself, it’s adaptable and it sends you signals when something is wrong like with pain. But in this case, the body has some room for improvement because its pain signals are actually a response to damage that has already occurred. Most people don’t pay attention to how their bodies are feeling until they receive that pain signal. But we can get ahead of it by addressing some major mobility limitations.
Daily Positions Can Be Harmful
Your body is set up for success. The way your tissues, joints and ligaments are positioned are for key power, longevity and function. In most cases, we do not take care of our body on a daily basis to maintain that initial set up. That’s why you have probably heard that sitting is bad for you. It’s not actually that simplistic. Instead what you should have heard is that daily positions you put your body into have a huge impact on how mobile you are, how you are able to function in your daily life or when you are active, and how likely you will get injured.
Hip Flexion and Hip Extension
Let’s use sitting as an example. Look down at your lap and notice the angle that your upper thigh and hip are in. This is called hip flexion. If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk you are spending a large amount of time in hip flexion. Now stand up and do your best Heisman Trophy pose or if you have no idea what I’m talking about then act like you are about to start running and freeze. The back leg that is off the ground is now in hip extension. If you spend most of your time sitting in hip flexion, then you are probably missing precious range of motion when you extend your leg as you run. If that is the case, then the body will steal that range of motion or mobility from somewhere else.
Remember how I said your body was extremely adaptable? That doesn’t mean that it is going to respond with your best interest. If you are missing mobility in your hip and decided to start running without addressing it then an injury is coming your way. It may just show up as some discomfort, or some swelling, or creaky noises but what is happening is damage.
What Can You Do About it?
Mobility. Come on, please tell me that you knew that was coming. I will be 100% honest and upfront. If you want your body to last and you want to stay active, then you have to take care of it. That means daily mobility. Let’s just start with 10 minutes a day that focuses on 2-3 common problem areas.
There are wonderful mobility tools available at Rogue Fitness. They have mobility balls, bands, and different types of foam rollers. Not all of that is necessary. You can do a ton of mobility without any equipment at all. You can also just use a baseball, lacrosse ball or softball that you already have at home. However, the most effective would be incorporating some equipment such as a foam roller, band or a ball. If you currently own a foam roller and it is soft then get rid of it. It’s not doing anything.
Close your eyes and now imagine pizza dough. I’ll give you a choice between two rolling pins. One is soft and made of foam. The other is hard and wooden. Which one do you think is more effective? Now open your eyes. Your tissues are basically pizza dough. Using a soft foam roller is not going to effectively massage those tissues because it is too soft. That massage is essentially ungluing your tacked down tissues from hours of sitting and providing you with more range of motion.
Your Tissues Should Not Hurt
Healthy tissues should not be sensitive to touch. However, you can use that sensitivity to hunt out areas that need some tender love and care from a good foam roller. Now some areas on your body are harder to reach with the traditional foam roller which is why they now have mobility balls like the supernova ball. This ball is great for your feet, hips, shoulders, calves, and neck. It’s fantastic to travel with especially if you know that the airplane ride or hotel bed is going to cause you some issues. Take the supernova ball and get to work.
Let’s Get Started
Here we go. Let’s do our first mobility together. Grab any hard ball that you have in your house. Now sit down in a chair and tuck that ball under your leg, which would be on your hamstring muscle. Wiggle your leg around until you find a sensitive spot. Stay on that spot. Remember to breathe. Now contract that muscle as hard as you can. Release and let that ball sink in deeper. Keep doing that until the sensitivity goes away. Another method is to hold that ball in place and go through cycles of extending and then bending your leg.
Breathe Through that Discomfort
Effective mobility is going to be uncomfortable. But remind yourself that that uncomfortable feeling means you just found a tissue that needs some love. Remember to breathe through that discomfort and stay in that spot until that feeling goes away. Spend about 2-3 minutes in each hot spot.
Now you have the basic framework of effective mobility techniques to take care of your own body. One of the most important skills you are about to develop is listening to how your body actually feels and what signals it is sending you.
Have fun hunting around for other sensitive spots and taking care of your body.
Check out Brush Park’s Instagram page for our latest video showing more quick tips with mobility tools. Post any questions that you may have.
For more in depth information about mobility techniques check out Dr. Kelly Starrett at MWOD.