girl using purple foam roller

Mobility is becoming an interesting topic in the strength world.

Back in the day, people would share the advice of, “Shut up and squat!” But we’ve now become more conscious of our body and what it truly takes to stay healthy and perform optimally.

To that end, we’ve put this post on mobility and its impact on strength training.

Let’s dive in.

What is Mobility?
Mobility is a measure of how freely you can move your body through space. Good mobility allows you to move around with no obstructions or pain. In contrast, poor mobility prevents you from moving freely and often hinders your training ability.

Unlike flexibility, which focuses on our muscles’ ability to lengthen, mobility encompasses flexibility, joint range of motion and stability, strength, and endurance.

An example of mobility would be to squat deeply with no issues. At first glance, that seems simple enough. But if you look at it closely, this simple act requires multiple things:

  • Adequate strength and balance 
  • Good hip and ankle range of motion
  • Adequate flexibility of the hamstrings, adductors, and other muscles

Why Is Mobility Important For Strength Training?
Mobility is essential for many reasons. But perhaps the two most important ones are:

  • Ability to train effectively
  • Resistance to injuries and aches

Poor mobility stops you from training correctly, which hinders your progress. Not having adequate mobility prevents your body from moving effectively on different exercises. The trouble here is that the body finds ways to compensate, leading to poor movement patterns. As a result, you limit your ability to produce strength, emphasise the wrong muscles, and increase your risk of injuries.

For example, poor mobility in the lower body could prevent you from squatting well:

  • You might not be able to reach adequate depth.
  • Your knees might cave in due to poor ankle mobility, hip instability, weak glutes, or something else.
  • You might struggle with the overall squat execution due to poor thoracic spine mobility.

The same is true for many exercises you would do in your training, especially more complex ones. Good mobility is an essential part of proper training, and not having it will hinder your movement and put you at a higher risk of an injury.

Why You Need ‘Just Enough’ Mobility
Like many things, mobility also follows the idea of, “If some is good, then more must be better.” But what many people fail to realise is that more mobility alone is not the answer—context matters.

The goal of mobility work is to allow us to practice our preferred activities safely and effectively. As discussed above, poor mobility often leads to bad movement patterns, reduced power output, and compensatory movements. Aside from making our training less effective, this puts us at a greater risk of injuries.

An excellent way to determine your mobility is to take an objective look at your movement patterns. Working with a coach or filming some of your training and reviewing it are two good ways to do so.

You might not notice compensatory motions firsthand, but an experienced eye could help you catch them. It then becomes a matter of determining where an issue might come from and taking steps to resolve it. However, this doesn’t mean you should do mobility work on top of mobility work. Having too much mobility likely won’t benefit you, and it might pull your attention from the activities that genuinely get you closer to your goals.

October 29, 2021 — Daniel Felstein

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.