During March, we will be asking our patients to get more mobile this month as part of the Australian Chiropractors Associations “March Mobility Month”!
Joint mobility can be defined as an individual’s ability to ACTIVELY CONTROL their limbs through their full range of motion (ROM). Joint mobility is not to be confused with flexibility. They are two very different concepts. Flexibility is defined as the ability of a muscle or muscle groups lengthen passively through a range of motion (ROM).
The main difference between MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY is CONTROL. Mobility is based on voluntary movements whilst flexibility is based on passive movements and a static hold with assistance (eg. A wall, a trainer, a strap etc). Both mobility and flexibility are important in maintaining musculoskeletal health and performance.
To have “good” mobility an individual needs to combine balance, core strength and neuromuscular coordination to execute the movement. Someone with good flexibility can still have poor mobility if these factors are not working in unison. Likewise, it is possible to have good mobility and not so good flexibility.
Mobility is important to us whether we are a professional athlete or just executing daily tasks. Many musculoskeletal injuries are related to poor mobility somewhere in the body. When we assess a patient’s pain or injury we look at joint mobility as a diagnostic tool to help understand why this may have occurred in the first place. Inevitably, once we have stripped everything back to the root if the issue, most of the time poor mobility is a major contributing factor.
When mobility is compromised in a joint our body finds compensatory patterns to make up for the lost movement. This often leads to increased mechanical load and strain around that joint or in adjacent areas of the body. This creates a poor movement pattern. With continued repetition of this poor movement, the tissues taking on more mechanical strain will begin to become damaged and inflamed. This then leads to injury. Much of what we do as practitioners is to help improve the poor mobility to reduce the strain on the injured tissues, whether that is hands on treatment or through exercise rehab.
Outside of contributing to injury and pain, mobility can also affect performance. A lack of mobility can reduce the joints and muscles capability to produce strength, power, speed, coordination and balance that are required in complex athletic movements. As an athlete looking to improve performance, efficiency or consistency, mobility may be something to consider to improve and get more out of their body.
Mobility is something that we should all be practicing on a regular basis. Different people may need to focus more on different areas due to their body type, lifestyle habits and physical activity. It is important to understand what you need as an individual to get the best out of your body. As chiropractors, we can help assess what you may need and guide you though a mobility program that is tailored to your needs.