Bodywork & Body Care, Nurture Yourself, Workout Tips

The Important Practice That’s Missing From Your Wellness Routine

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If you’re an active person, you likely work on (or at least know you should work on) your flexibility. But what about your…mobility?

While it’s not the sexiest self-care word, mobility is underappreciated and incredibly important. After all, you like to move, right?

“The human body is meant for survival, and survival inherently required movement. Modern culture is amazing but we have far less critical need for movement than we used to, and an inability to move in a healthy way has resulted for many of us,” says Chad Woodard, PhD, DPT, the principal director of Symbio Physiotherapy. “Computers and desk jobs are changing the world, but sadly, at the risk of degrading our potential for healthy movement.”

It’s why SYMBIO teamed up with fitness streaming platform NEOU (which hosts workouts from 20 different brands, with new styles and trainers added every week) to offer classes that use therapeutic exercises to restore optimal body movement. The classes focus on joint health, increased mobility, tissue extensibility and movement adaptation, so users can work on keeping their bodies moving in a healthy way in between HIIT and boxing workouts.

Here, Dr. Woodard explains why mobility is important and shares a 15-minute upper body practice you can start, now.

Why Mobility Is Important

First of all, good mobility is a critical prerequisite for exercise, in terms of both getting the most out of your workouts and avoiding injury.

“Michael Phelps can’t work on getting his swim stroke stronger if he doesn’t have the ability to first reach overhead without hurting himself. Neither can we,” Dr. Woodard says. “If, for example, your hips, knees, and ankles do not have the capacity to do their job on a basic and fundamental level, doing lower body resistance training will eventually break those joints down.  Our athletes excel because we first give them the option and ability for healthy movement, then we get them strong in those ranges.”

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And it’s not just about being prepared for your sweat session.  “Assuming we can all agree that turning your head without pain and reaching overhead for a dinner plate without risking arthritis is desirable, a lack of mobility in the neck, shoulders, and back is absolutely something that we must optimize,” he says.

Mobility Vs. Stretching

Stretching has many benefits of his own, and Dr. Woodard explains that depending on your body and lifestyle, you might benefit more from one or the other—or you might just need both.

The real difference is that rather than just stretching out tight muscles, a mobility class “will often focus on varied anatomical structures preventing healthy movement—like joints, muscles, and fascia,” he says. “If joint tightness, pain, and restriction are the primary imbalance for a person, a mobility class might be more suited for that specific person.”

RELATED: Why Fitness Pros Are Introducing a Totally New Way to Stretch

How to Do It

“Some movers truly do need a daily routine, and some much less,” Dr. Woodard says. “The dosage and frequency of mobility work entirely depends on the specific person, their inherent body type and current level of mobility, and their desired goals for their body and sport.”

In other words, listen to your body (or your PT) and get to work. Below, you’ll find a special 15-minute SYMBIO PT routine for the upper body (since we know your back and shoulders have that laptop hunch!) that’s a preview of the many different kinds of classes available on NEOU.

(Featured Photo: Shutterstock)

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