We all hit the gym to look good and feel good. Our desire to better our health and physique often dominates our list of priorities and for good reason. The pump we feel from training lets us know we’re working hard and getting results.
But as amazing as our training is for us, it’s important to realise that it’s also a form of stress. Our joints and ligaments do not respond the same way muscles do when we lift weights. In fact, your joints and connective tissue bear most of the brunt from those intense workouts, leaving us open to injuries over time.
That’s why mobility exercises and stretching are so important, as help promote longevity and joint health. As always, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things, so here are some examples you should avoid and follow when it comes to mobility training.
WHEN IT COMES TO TRAINING, HERE’S HOW TO STAY INJURY-FREE
IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS
Here’s the deal… You’re not going to get a glorious pump when you work on your mobility and flexibility. Quite frankly, you might find it mind-numbing at first. But if it doesn’t become a regular part of your routine, you may injure yourself to a point where you won’t be able to enjoy a gym pump for a very long time. So, do not ignore the benefits it brings to your training.
Stretching and mobility work drastically to decrease your chance of injury and long-term wear and tear on your joints. Make it a staple in your routine.
PATIENCE IS KEY
Much like building a physique, becoming more flexible and increasing your mobility take a heck of a lot of time. Don’t get frustrated if you’re not doing the splits after a week. Our daily movements and routines usually do not promote mobility.
Sitting down for extended periods of time, for example, is something almost all of us do every single day. But this happens to be the worst position for our spine and hips to be in. So keep that in mind when you’re starting out and be realistic about where you want to get to.
WARM UP AND USE PROPER FORM
Just like in weight training, stretching and mobility require that you warm and execute the positions and mobility exercises properly. Jumping right into a complicated stretch while your body is cold can cause you to strain the muscle you’re stretching or not allow you to get the full benefits of the stretch. Treat this segment of your routine as you would if you were training chest or arms. It’s equally as important, if not more so.
DON’T OVERDO IT
While it’s great to regularly set aside time to improve your mobility, it’s important to note that this too can be overdone. If your mobility/stretching routine is creeping up to the 2-hour mark, you’re overdoing it and can grow quite bored (or insane) quickly, and it may lead you to quit altogether.
Quick tip: Break down your body into upper and lower body, and alternate days.
DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF TO ONE METHOD
I know doing all this stuff may not be as fun to you as blasting out a new squat PR or Plyometrics so, by all means, keep it fresh and try different methods.
There are many ways you can improve mobility and flexibility, and we want you to incorporate the ones that best suit and motivate you to continue doing it consistently. Most gyms offer free yoga and stretching classes as part of the membership plans. That, there, is a great opportunity to take advantage of.