What is Mobility?
Mobility, a very commonplace term used in the Physiotherapy industry. What does it actually mean? Range of motion? Flexibility? From what I see it is a combination of the two. It is the ability to perform a certain movement with multiple joints involved, freely with no pain and full function. Flexibility and Range of motion refers to one joint moving in one direction.
For example, the amount of mobility needed for a ‘deadlift’ exercise relies on the movement of several different joints; hip, knee and ankle. But the flexibility or range of these joints will need to be adequate to achieve the correct amount of mobility. There is a reason someone is lacking mobility, this could be due to; pain, joint stiffness, muscle tightness, neural tension etc. It is our job as physiotherapists to figure this out.
Does is really matter?
Correcting Mobility issues is often the first means of treatment after the inflammation period has resided and rehab is ready to commence. We need to be able to move correctly before we move with force against resistance or stress. Mobility training allows us to not only change the range of a joint but change the pattern of movement. For example, someone who always flexed the lower back to bend down and pick things up, now uses their hips to keep their back straight through mobility training with a broom stick. It takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. It is said that for a movement to be perfected it needs to be performed between 2000-3000 times!
Mobility exercises are vital in that they upkeep the work done through hands on massage and mobilisations to get the joints moving to be able to perform a movement. If they get forgotten, the movement will become restricted again and you will have to receive another treatment to reset the position for that movement. We must have mobility/stability before we add force/resistance to movement, that is the bottom line.