Whenever you make a movement, there are two groups of muscles. One set of muscles, referred to as protagonistic muscles, are the muscles that actually facilitate the movement. The other set of muscles, referred to as antagonistic muscles, are the muscles that resist the movement. The degree to which the antagonistic muscles can stretch and therefore the degree to which a specific movement can take place is what determines your mobility as a person.
What is the difference between flexibility and mobility?
There is no difference typically between these two terms. They both refer to muscle stretching and the range of stretching that can occur around the joints within your body.
Why should I be interested in improving my mobility?
Improving your mobility will also improve the stretching range of your antagonistic muscles. This allows you to develop a larger range to your movements, which is ultimately beneficial in many different sports. Having good mobility also allows you to prevent certain types of injuries and reduce the severity of others.
What is the proper method of stretching for mobility exercises?
You want to stretch until you feel a discomforting sensation in the antagonistic muscles that you are exercising; this is also sometimes just referred to as a stretch sensation. Sharp and stabbing pain means that you have hyper extended the antagonistic muscles or in other words stretched too far. You want to feel the stretch sensation, but no real sharp pain.
What kinds of exercises should I be performing to increase my mobility?
There are seven distinct kinds of exercises that can help you improve your mobility.
Static Stretching: This is where you assume a position and hold it for a specified amount of time. If you’ve ever done exercises where you needed to keep your legs straight and place your palms on the floor, this is an example of a static stretch.
Ballistic Stretching: As the name might imply, this method of stretching uses body ballistics in order to try to get limbs to stretch beyond a range that would be considered normal for them. It is a very risky type of stretching to try in that if done improperly it can have more damaging affects than some of the other stretches.
Dynamic Stretching: This is repetitive, controlled movement in order to facilitate better mobility. An example of this is gradual extension of the arm muscles (straightening and then bending the arm) in order to facilitate greater arm mobility.
Active Stretching: A type of static stretching that involves holding a position with no assistance other than the strength of your muscles.
Passive Stretching: This is a type of static stretching where you hold a position with the help of a partner, a tool or simply the ground.
Isometric Stretching: A type of static stretching that uses the tensing tendencies of certain muscle groups in order to facilitate mobility-increasing stretches.
Partner Stretching: This is a type of stretching where a partner helps you to maintain the stretch for the pre-agreed period of time.
Which stretches are better to perform?
It depends on what you want out of the stretch. Static stretching methods are much safer to perform and incorrect technique is less likely to result in severe muscle tenderness and injury. On the other hand, ballistic and dynamic stretching will provide much greater results in a much shorter period of time if used with proper exercise techniques.
What order should I do them in and when in my workout should they occur?
Most people will do mobility exercises as part of their warm-up and warm-down sessions in their workout (keeping in mind that there is already a lot of static stretching involved in a typical warm-up and warm-down plan) but they can also be a separate segment of your workout as well.
There is no set order to how to do mobility exercises, but the usual recommendation is to do static stretching before dynamic or ballistic stretching.