Two years ago, Takesh Singh, a director and actor from Mumbai, started having neck problems. The 43-year-old had severe neck stiffness and had difficulty turning his head to the side for even a moment. This was strange and troubling to Singh because he had been playing sports and exercising for most of his life.
My body has always worked well. I walk or run every day, go to the gym and watch what I eat. But the stiffness around my neck got progressively worse and I couldn’t dismiss it as something caused by an uncomfortable sleeping position or a pillow change. This was worrying and I consulted a sports physiotherapist,” recalls Singh.
He found that the condition was the result of a lack of mobility and hours spent sitting in front of screens for long hours. The good news was that the condition could be reversed easily with some simple daily mobility exercises. Since the diagnosis, Singh has been doing mobility moves, independent of her regular workouts, at least four times a week. No matter how busy I get, I do my mobility exercises for 15 minutes three or four times a week because I don’t want to suffer like I did two years ago,” he says.
Just like Singh, you may also have heard of the phrase mobility exercises at the gym, without really knowing what it meant. So many people don’t quite understand what exactly mobility is about.” Abraar Khan Waryah, co-founder and head trainer of Gridiron Fitness Studio in Kolkata, defines mobility as the active control of a joint that requires a combination of strength, flexibility and control He also adds that flexibility is different from mobility.
Flexibility is defined as passive control of a joint and flexibility training or stretching creates temporary changes in the tissues. Flexibility is the ability of muscles to stretch passively. Therefore, while flexibility is a component of mobility, mobility and flexibility are not interchangeable,” he adds.
Put simply, mobility stretches with an element of movement, says Preetesh Manas, a Mumbai-based personal trainer. Mobility exercises make joints flexible allowing them to achieve their full range of motion, she adds. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, everyone from a beginner to a fitness enthusiast to a professional athlete needs to do mobility exercises. Mobility work helps people lead pain-free, active lives and enables sportsmen and athletes to move freely and effectively.
Ideally, a warm-up and mobility work should go hand-in-hand in any exercise regimen. Mobility work leads to long-term changes and requires a greater investment of time than a warm-up, which is specific to a workout and its sole purpose is to increase core temperature and blood flow to reduce the risk of injury.” Says Waryah: Any good mobility routine requires a bottom-up approach that should aim to mobilize the main moving parts of the body: ankles, hips, ribs/chest area, and shoulders.
Mobility is an important part of life, says Vaibhav Daga, head of sports science and sports medicine and rehabilitation consultant at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai. Mobility helps improve performance and prevent injuries in fitness enthusiasts. For people who lead a sedentary lifestyle, mobile working is important for carrying out daily activities. For example, picking up a box, squatting, reaching to remove something from the top shelf, or jumping over a puddle of water while walking all require muscles and joints to move freely. If your muscles and joints aren’t ready to take on these simple strains in your daily life, the chance of ending up with some injury is significantly higher,” he adds.
Mobility work also improves joint health, which, in turn, is an indication of ease of movement and muscle fiber flexibility. It also helps maintain joint health and muscle and postural balance, improves performance and balance, says Manas.
While ideally you should do some mobility before every workout, whether it be lifting, running, HIIT, or any type of workout at least three times a week, most coaches agree that mobility work is often ignored by many, including even fitness trainers.
All athletes who focus on their figure and body builders usually have impaired mobility,” says Manas from his experience in the industry. Also, the general public ignores mobility work despite a high incidence of problems such as back, shoulders “Because it has a lot, neck has little aesthetic value and people see it as a waste of time with no visible benefit. Unless it’s a high-performance sport, mobility is largely ignored,” says Manas.
The four best mobility moves of Preetesh Manas
-The largest stretch in the world
-Quadruped to Downward dog
-90-90 Hip stretch
Vaibhav Dagas the four best mobility moves
– Assisted deep squat
-Quadruped to Downward dog
– Cat cows
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of Shivfit methoda book on functional fitness.
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