Mobility is a really important part of the training process. It is something that a lot of athletes need.
But just like any good thing, there is also a downside to mobility training. Sometimes, it gets prioritized so much that people forget to actually train.
Athletes still need to be strong, quick, fast, and in shape. Mobility is just a piece to those larger puzzles.
Where mobility really fits in is as a recovery method or an injury prevention means.
Not all injuries are preventable and mobility will not solve all of them. Injuries can be contact or non contact. Non contact injuries can occur when the joint lacks strength or the range of motion needed for the activity.
How Injury Occurs
Injury can happen in a number of unpredictable ways. At any one time a collision can happen and the resulting injury could be minor to devastating. There is nothing we can do about this.
Non contact injuries are a little bit more predictive. An athlete that is weak is more likely to suffer an injury. Injuries occur when the force applied to a joint is too great to handle.
Strength is the way in which we determine how much force can be absorbed. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles all contribute to joint strength.
Demands of the Sport
Mobility is needed in some sports more than others.
- Football lineman need more hip mobility to get into their stance than wide receivers.
- Soccer players are not often in positions of high mobility need
- Rotational athletes must have the capacity to perform in their sport.
These are just three examples of how mobility changes based on sport. How much mobility you need really depends on your sport, position, and individual movement.
Some athletes are naturally more mobile and need strength. Other athletes might be the exact opposite.
Where Does Mobility Stand
Not only does the amount of mobility needed differ among athletes, the prioritization of it changes.
Spending too much time working on mobility but never giving an athlete the opportunity to use it is doing a disservice to that person.
The goal of working with athletes is to improve performance and give them the best chance to reduce the risk of injury. The wrong balance of those two things can really break an athlete’s training.
It can appear as though no training is happening and the athlete is not getting closer to their goals.
Mobility is only going to reduce the risk of injury in sports that require a lot of range of motion. Forcing range of motion that is not available can cause injury.
If an athlete has the mobility to perform all of the demands of their sport then they need less focus on it than say a golfer.
Incorporating Mobility Training
The warm up is a great time to incorporate mobility work. This helps get the body loose and the joints ready for the demands of the following session. It also fits in really well with the types of movements used to warm up.
If an athlete needs additional mobility work, supersets are a great time to add them in. An athlete can perform a set of squats and then go do some shoulder mobility work. This provides a recovery time in between sets that will not cause further fatigue. We also get the mobility benefits in a time efficient way.