Is reaching your toes not as easy as it used to be? Do you feel stiff and achy when you wake up in the morning? Does it seem like it takes you longer to recover from your workouts? Well as we age, are muscles become a little less elastic and our joints lose some of their fluidity. However, that doesn't mean that we just have to accept that we will be less mobile as we age. There are many things that we can do to help limit these changes to stay feeling young and spry like a spring chicken 😉
Some simple strategies that we can use to help to mobile as we age include:
Stay Active: As the saying goes, "if you don't use it, you lose it." This is 100% correct, so it is very important that we continue to stay active and keep moving.
Stay Hydrated: Our body is made up of about 60% water and our muscles up to 75%, so it is extremely important for us to stay hydrated. It is recommended that we drink at least 1/2 of our body weight in ounces everyday (ie - if you weigh 150lbs, you should drink 75oz of water per day).
Eat Healthy: Now this may be a no brainer, but it is also easier said than done. Eating a balanced diet that consists of mostly real foods (ie - meat/eggs/dairy, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats) is key to health and longevity.
Work Specifically on Mobility: Now, I know that this might not be the strategy that everyone wants to hear, but obviously if we take time to focus on our mobility, we will remain more mobile.
There are some easy mobility techniques that we can incorporate into our activities or workout routines that will help us stay mobile as we age. This blog will outline 4 different types of mobility work: self massage, dynamic stretching, static stretching, and joint mobilization. We will cover what each of these are, when to do them, and how to do them. We hope that this will help provide you some guidance on incorporating mobility work into your workouts and getting the most bang for your buck.
What: Self massage is a technique that uses tools such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, massage guns, etc. to decrease muscle soreness/tension, improve flexibility, and improve movement. Self massage accomplishes this task by improving blood flow to stimulate recovery/healing and providing input to our nervous system to allow for muscle relaxation.
When: Pre or Post Workout. When you choose to use self massage will depend on your goal and intended outcome of using that specific technique. Self massage can be done pre workout to help increase blood flow and loosen up your muscles before a workout and it can also be used as a recovery tool post workout to help with muscle relaxation.
Foam Roller: 1-2 minutes/per muscle group
Lacrosse Ball: 1-2 minutes/per muscle group
Massage Gun: Up to 5 minutes/per muscle group
What: Dynamic stretching is actively moving muscles and joints through a full range of motion and typically in a manner that mimics the activity you are about to perform. Because you are actively moving during dynamic stretching you will increase blood flow, warm-up your muscles, and activate your nervous system. These are all extremely important because it helps prime your body for the upcoming activity/sport, which can improve power output, coordination, and overall performance during sport or activities!
When: Pre Workout or Pre Sport/Activity. Dynamic stretching should be performed before every workout, activity, or competition. It prepares your body for the task at hand and the more your body is prepared, the better you will perform! You can also decrease your risk of injury by preparing your body correctly.
How: Stretching with movement for a prescribed amount of reps or time depending on the movement.
What: Static stretching is moving a muscle or joint through a full range of motion (ROM) and holding at the end range for a prescribed amount of time, typically 30-90+ sec. Static stretching is effective at increasing tissue extensibility and ROM.
When: Post Workout or Pre Workout to address a ROM deficit.
Studies have shown that static stretching when done before a workout can decrease power and max strength, which can decrease overall performance. However, if you are dealing with a muscle or joint restriction that impacts a specific movement pattern or activity, performing static stretching before a workout may be necessary for you to achieve the proper positions of the movement. For example, if you have limited ankle mobility, you need to work on static ankle mobility prior to squatting in order to hit full depth and proper positions in the squat. However, it is very important that you always follow up your static stretching with dynamic stretching to make sure you warm-up properly and prepare your body for the activity.
How: Hold each stretch or position for 30-90+ seconds
Self Joint Mobilization
What: Self joint mobilization is mobilizing a joint in order to improve range of motion (ROM) by increasing synovial fluid (the fluid that helps lubricate our joints) and decreasing capsular restrictions. In order for us to achieve full ROM, we not only need to address the soft tissue restrictions with the other mobility techniques we have discussed, but we also need to make sure that the joint itself can move freely.
When: Pre or Post Workout. Joint mobilizations can be done pre or post workout; however, as with static stretching, if you have a restricted joint that prevents you from moving properly with certain movements, you should spend time mobilizing that joint prior to working out.
How: With a band or other mobility tools, static holds for 30-60+ seconds or oscillations for reps (10-20).
Wrapping it Up
Maintaining our mobility as we age is very important to help us stay active, reduce risk of injury, and perform at our best! And doing specific mobility work is one strategy to help us stay mobile and moving. We hope that outlining these 4 different types of mobility work was helpful for you to better understand when to use these different techniques and how to incorporate them into your workout routines.
Something that we were unable to cover in this blog, is what specific mobility exercises would be best for you. Obviously, this would be very different based on the individual and their specific needs, areas of limitation, and their activity/sport. If mobility is an area you would like to improve upon, struggle with, or are not sure where to start, we would be happy to help! At Enhance, we offer customized mobility assessments and programs. We will take you through a full body mobility screen and based on those results, we will write you a customized mobility program. This program is designed to be incorporated into your existing workout routine to help target and address your needs. If this sounds like something you need, use this link to schedule your mobility assessment today: https://pteverywhere.com/PtE/enhancept/bookingonline. If you have any questions about mobility or our mobility assessments, we would love to help answer them, just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.