Mobility 101 with Brianna Balzer
This week I have a special guest blogger! Brianna Balzer is just finishing up her first year of her Masters in Physiotherapy at Western University and has spent the last 5 weeks stuck with me on her clinical placement. I've tried to show her a few tricks of the trade, help develop her clinical reasoning and soft skills but also thought it would be fun to have her try her hand at blogging! For me, blogging has been a great way to reach a wider audience, promote my profession and help people better get to know me as a clinician and person. So here we go- Brianna is going to be talking mobility today! Take it away girl!
Do you have sore muscles, achy joints, or a range of motion restriction?
There isn’t necessarily one magic answer or approach to make everything better, but many things in combination can help-one of these answers being mobility. Maintaining mobility in our body is important to ensuring that we can move the way we were designed to. You don’t need to take hours out of your day to maintain mobility, it can be a matter of dedicating minutes.
Why is mobility so important?
Our bodies are designed to move through different ranges of motion. When you are missing range of motion at your joints, you may not have proper or safe form when doing day-to-day tasks, completing exercises, or just moving in general.
The body will do whatever it can to perform the movements we want it to create. If there is a decrease in mobility in areas that are required to be mobile it will find a way around it. We always take the path of least resistance. The concern here is that often these compensatory patterns are less ideal for the muscles and joints involved and increase the risk of injury while also reducing your ability to create power.
When should you mobilize?
Over tension or tone in the muscles can be a reason for limited joint motion. Now, our joints aren't meant to move all over the place- they supposed to have a stopping point and get stiff at the end of range- but you shouldn't be feeling limited or stiff throughout normal movement or that you can't get to the end range of your movement. A physiotherapist can help you determine if you are stiff and if so whether it is the joint or the muscles themselves that are the issue.
Mobilization techniques are used to give some slack to the system that is over tensioned or restricted. In turn, this can reduce the joint pain locally by improving the overall efficiency of the system. By improving the range of motion and restoring proper movement of the system, you can reduce pain, improve motor patterns and overall function.
How to mobilize?
There are many mobility exercises or techniques. Below are a few exercises that you can give a try if you are interested in beginning a self-management program. These exercises don’t replace you seeing a health practitioner, but will offer you some options to help kickstart the process!
This exercise will help the with rotation of your trunk, hips, and knees. Stiffness in the spine can also be targeted through this exercise. This is a great exercise, especially for individuals who participate in activities or tasks that involve twisting such as golf or racquet sports. Ideally, complete this exercise 15-20 times per side 3-4 times a week.
A lacrosse ball can do wonders to help you gain and maintain mobility. This mobility exercise is to help release the hamstring, which could be causing some stiffness in the hips and other areas of the body. Once you find a spot that is tender, stay there and straighten your leg 10-15 times. Move to another tender area down your hamstring. Find about 4-6 spots to release and complete this exercise 3-4 times a week.
Thoracic Spine Mobility
The following 3 exercises are progressions to improve the mobility in your thoracic region. You can start with the first exercise and when you are ready to progress, replace the first exercise with the second, then replace the second with the third. Try to complete the exercise with 2 sets, 12-15 times per side, 3-4 times a week.
Hip Flexor stretch for hip mobility
With all the sitting we do on a daily basis, it is important to get the front of our hips stretched out! Complete this stretch 2-3 times per side, holding 30 seconds- 1 minute, 3-4 times a week.
This exercise is to help increase mobility in the movement called dorsiflexion in the ankle. It can help improve your running stride and for more range in exercises such as squats. You can complete this exercise with 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions 3-4 times a week.
I hope this helps you get started with your mobility program! Remember, we were made to move and if you don't use it, you will lose it!