On their surface, mobility training and strength training appear to have nothing in common.
In fact, mobility movements can look similar to stretching, so you may think they’re solely for improving flexibility. However, mobility training has much, much more to do with strength training than you might suspect!
These two types of training modalities aren’t the same per se, but they do feed into each other to improve overall strength. Here we break down their difference, and how mobility training can significantly level up your strength and performance.
What Is Mobility Training?
While strength can be thought of as the ability to lift heavy objects (including your own body), mobility refers to the ability to move a strong body through its full range of motion.
In earlier years, mobility was often limited to some light stretching or foam rolling before a strength session. Aka: Bam! Got the boring stretching in. Next.
But in reality, the fittest of the fit among us include plenty of mobility work. This is because the value of having a strong body that isn’t stiff or limited in its ability to rotate or bend is unparalleled.
Mobility also isn’t necessarily the same as flexibility – stretching is different from moving your muscles through their full range under weight. Not all mobility movements are under weight, but many are under your bodyweight.
Think of movements like crawling, or even some twisting yoga poses: during these movements, your muscles are supporting your weight as your are moving through the motion and stretching. They are strengthening and lengthening simultaneously, which helps keep them in that state of elasticity.
How Does Mobility Training Improve Strength?
If we think about it, mobility is actually the foundation of all true strength. If your muscles and joints aren’t mobile, after all, you won’t be able to fully sink into the correct position to execute a lift. This then engages less muscles, which results in less strength or power output.
In this way, mobility training and strength training aren’t the same, but they work together for the same goal.
And you’ve probably heard us say this before, but mobility has become even more crucial for everyone in modern times, not just athletes. As more and more of us spend more and more time sitting at desks or in other stationary positions, our bodies become stiffer and weaker.
When we take this stiffness and weakness and then try to push through a tough workout or practice session, we’re simply asking for an injury. This is not only because tight muscles can be torn, but also because the tiny muscles and tendons that support our larger muscles become weakened over time from disuse – and also from lack of well-distributed gravity.
When we regularly engage these muscles and move through full ranges of motion, however, we maintain the integrity of these muscles so that they can provide the strongest foundation for larger muscle movements … without breaking!
Mobility Moves To Try
Many of us can “get away” with avoiding mobility work for a while … until an injury or plateau occurs. This is because as you progress and begin to load more muscles, the need for mobility will increase. And, if you don’t address the need for this foundation, you body will likely address it for you when you accidentally take a movement too far!
In truth, everyone’s warmup should include mobility work.
“Inadequate mobility and stability lead to about 90% of the injuries that come into our physical therapy practice,” says Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., a New York-based physical therapist and creator of Movement Vault. “Just 15 minutes of mobility warmup work every day can prevent a devastating injury — torn rotator cuff, slipped disc — that’ll keep you out of the gym (and in a lot of pain) for months.”
Here are several mobility moves to consider adding to a 15-minute mobility warm up:
Don’t forget that you can also access Daily Mobility Workouts on our Durable Athlete App, plus specific programs for improve strength, joint health, pain, and more! Start your 14-Day FREE TRIAL here.