mobility, stability, & flexibility

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A rock in my training programming is the improvement and facilitation of the mobility of certain joints. Mobility of the ankle joint, hip joint, and thoracic spine are critical to performance, efficient movement, and injury prevention. On the other hand, stability of the knee joint, lumbar spine, and shoulder joint are also of critical importance to performance and injury prevention. Loss of mobility in one joint, often times, leads to a compensation in the joint above or below, and increases the risk for injury (example: lack of mobility in the hips often leads to compensation in the lumbar spine; lack of mobility in the ankle joint means compensation at the knee and increases the risk for injury). Thus, specific attention is placed on improving the mobility of the appropriate joints. Furthermore, placing an athlete in a dynamic warm-up with certain specific mobility movements can even help to potentiate subsequent activities in that training session for elevated performance.  

Flexibility, particularly of the hamstrings, also aids in better performance and is therefore addressed in how I train and coach my athletes. There is a specific distinction between mobility and flexibility in that “mobility is the freedom of an athlete’s limb to move through a desired range of motion, whereas flexibility is a joint’s total range of motion” (538). Thus, an emphasis on mobility, movement through a sport-specific range of motion in a more dynamic manner, more than that of a static stretch, is advantageous. Further, simply enhancing range of motion (ROM) without an appropriate motor control may not necessarily enhance performance, but a progressive strength training program can help to increase the flexibility of a joint and increase strength and force capacity across a larger ROM.

It is also important to note that different sports have different movement needs and therefore may require different degrees of flexibility for optimal performance. This understanding can help in programming for different athletes of different sports when it comes to addressing the mobility and flexibility needs of an athlete.