With all this new snow, out comes the shovel and the added muscle soreness that comes with it. A typical (but dreaded) chore like shoveling snow is a normal, everyday reminder of your mobility and range of motion or lack thereof. For many of us, the words “mobility” and “range of motion” are associated with aging; we think of limitations in these areas as being exclusively assigned to older individuals, maybe after a surgery or two, or just in the combination of aging more and exercising less.
The truth is that mobility and range of motion are relevant to all of us–young, old and in between. Our bodies are designed to move fluidly and perform basic functions with ease and strength. Each muscle and joint work together to accomplish basic movements within our range of motion. The ability to move freely and with ease is called mobility. Mobility is not to be confused with flexibility; people who can bend easily can’t necessarily perform simple tasks with balance, coordination and strength.
Mobility’s importance seems obvious; you want to be able to perform duties well and without pain or discomfort. However, the lessening of mobility isn’t always obvious and it is something you always want to be aware of in order to prevent injury. If you are performing basic motions (bending, lifting, reaching or stepping) and you feel pain, tightness, or numbness, you have a lack of mobility in those areas. If your range of motion is limited in particular areas, you set yourself up for injury, which in turn will lessen your mobility even more.
Injury occurs in every day tasks when the body has to compensate for a region that has lessened mobility. For instance, if you bend to pick something up and you don’t have the proper mobility in your lower body joints, you may severely injure your lower back which has attempted to compensate for your poor range of motion in the lower body. To be able to squat and lift an object is a seemingly simple motion, but oftentimes, if the body is not trained in this exercise, injury will occur when you least expect it.
It is clear that maintaining mobility and increasing range of motion is always a good idea when it comes to enhancing quality of life and preventing injury. Here’s how you can increase your mobility in order to prevent injury and increase wellness:
- Get adjusted. One of the main functions of chiropractic adjustments is to restore mobility to the joint. Even if a joint seems to be functioning normally, it is always a good idea to have me evaluate it routinely. Adjustments work as a preventative measure as well in order to keep your body moving like it should.
- Foam roll. Use the foam rollers at the gym or purchase your own for home use on tight spots. This does not replace the need for chiropractic care but it will definitely help you maintain mobility once it is achieved or to help lessen any discomfort. Instead of rolling rapidly over the same spot, position the foam roller in the area of discomfort and breathe deeply into the muscle. Then, flex the muscle slowly and gradually release it. Repeat this exercise regularly (preferably daily) to manage your mobility.
- Exercise. There are specific exercises that I recommend for maintaining and increasing mobility. They are often basic, slow or balancing motions that can help not only elongate the muscle (flexibility) but also to increase the motion of the joint. These motions vary per region of the body, so ask me in your next visit (or schedule a consultation!) to discuss specific exercises.
- These exercises include but aren’t limited to: holding the squat position in a wall-sit, performing shoulder rotations with a resistance band, and overhead reaches for thoracic mobility.
- Stretch. Stretching is helpful for increasing mobility but is definitely not my first recommendation, especially without consulting with me first. If the area is inflamed, injured or extremely stiff, you do not want to stretch it immediately. Stretching is more of a preventative exercise for areas of your body that feel slightly sore from working out or in areas that I have given you specific stretches for. This is because stretching just elongates the muscle and doesn’t necessarily add mobility to the joint, especially if you are in need of an adjustment or strengthening exercises for that area.
Achieving optimal mobility is key for athletic performance, aging properly and even just daily functionality. If you’re curious about chiropractic or are a current patient that would like some mobility exercises and tips tailored to your condition, schedule an appointment at Lifestyle Chiropractic by calling (920) 499-3333.
Best of health,
Dr. Chad M. Hoffman