Mobility can be defined as the ability to freely move through a range of motion. Human beings are born with a ton of mobility. At some point, all of us had the ability to sit deeply in a squat, swivel at our hips, and maneuver monkey bars without difficulty nor discomfort. However, many of us lose mobility over time and positions and postures that we once took for granted become difficult to assume or maintain.
Having normal mobility is important for proper movement. Without normal mobility it becomes difficult to perform functional movements like kneeling on the ground and lifting overhead. Lacking mobility can also result in poor performance with movements required for sport (e.g. suboptimal golf swing, overhead squat, lifting from the ground)
Humans are prone to losing mobility at three key regions of the body. They include the thoracic spine, hips, and ankles. These areas are major junctions of movement and the loss of mobility has a profound affect on movement quality. Without normal mobility, movement compensations occur. An example of a movement compensation due to lack of shoulder mobility is spine hyperextension when lifting overhead. At the lower body, knees caving inwards during squats and lunges when ankle mobility is limited. These types of repetitive movement compensations can lead to pain or injury down the road.
Mobility may be lost for a number of reasons. Two reasons that we see quite often at our physical therapy clinic are a loss of mobility due to weakness of the stiff muscle group and mobility loss due to weakness at surrounding muscle groups. However, the only way to know what is contributing to the loss of mobility is to perform a complete assessment.
When joint and/or muscle stiffness is found via the assessment, our approach includes specific exercise instruction to develop stability and strength through the weak muscle groups and/or surrounding muscle groups. While passive treatments (e.g. adjustments, massage, release techniques) can helpful in the short-term, a lack of mobility is tied to strength. Therefore, stability and strength need to be developed.
We teach activation exercises to help our clients engage muscles at end ranges of motion. Once muscles engage better, our next step is integrating newly developed range of motion into patterns of movement. We teach our patients how to squat, lunge, and lift overhead through full ranges of motion. When performed with good technique and without pain, these exercises can be powerful for developing mobility through strength. It is this approach that develops mobility that lasts.
When addressed with a thorough physical therapy assessment and plan of care, mobility can be developed and improved. However, pushing through mobility limitations and compensating with movements can increase the risk of pain or injury.
If you’re frustrated with your lack of mobility, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad help. We offer free guides on our website for the most common injuries that see. If you’re active, a lack of mobility puts our bodies at risk for a variety of athletic injuries Our guide on athletic injuries can kickstart your recovery and provide further insight into developing mobility.
In addition, we are happy to offer a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your mobility is affecting you and discuss your treatment options. If your needs warrant an office visit, we offer a limited number of free Discovery Visits every month so we can take a look at your body so we can provide clarity on why you’re stiff and confidence that we can help.
Whether you decide to have care with us or another office, we want to you to restore mobility and get back to you active way of life. Call us at (864)-558-7346 and ask how we can help.