How important is mobility?

Mobility is incredibly important for everyone, but is of particular importance to us as we age.

Mobility allows us to stoop down to pick something up, to reach for the item on the top shelf, even to do something as seemingly simple as tying your shoe. With a lack of mobility daily tasks become more difficult.

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It may even cause aches and pains (in particular, you will notice this in your neck, shoulders, hips, and low back).  As we age we can expect to naturally lose some flexibility and mobility in our joints.

That said, it is not necessarily something that is destined to happen and inevitable beyond our control. There are many things that you can do to prevent this loss in mobility, and even to reverse this loss of mobility if it has already started. The best part is it only takes minutes per day to improve your mobility.

It will just take some discipline and consistency, and you’ll be well on your way to a mobile future!

How do you lose mobility?

In order for us to take the first step in improving our mobility after 50, we have to recognize the things we are doing that can decrease the mobility.

Inactivity is a major cause of loss of mobility. As the old adage goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. This saying couldn’t be more true in terms of mobility. Our muscles and joints need to move in order to remain healthy and the joints lubricated.

Not moving enough will cause your muscles to stiffen and shorten on one side, and lengthen on the other side of the joint, causing a muscle imbalance.

The impact of repetitive movements over time

Repetitive movements are also a contributing factor to loss of mobility over time.

When we repeat similar movement patterns over time our muscles get used to that pattern of movement and start to lose flexibility in other directions or patterns.  

Think about your golf swing or how you carry your purse.  If you are always moving in the same direction or holding your purse or bag on the same side, this will create an imbalance in your body over time.

Preventing the loss of mobility

Preventing loss of mobility will take some awareness and consistency.

First and foremost, you should become aware of the activities that are causing you to lose mobility. If you sit at a desk for most of your day, for example, your lack of movement is affecting your mobility.

Instead of remaining seated until you absolutely have to get up, set a timer for yourself each hour to get up and move or do some of the stretches or exercises at the end of this article.  Consistency is also going to be important to prevent losses of mobility.

You must commit to completing the exercises regularly in order to see the benefits.

mobility exercises_2

It’s never too late to improve you mobility

Even if you are over 50 and have never tried to improve your mobility, it’s not too late!

Applying the principles of consistency and awareness, you’ll be able to see some significant improvements in your mobility and ability to perform functional activities.

What are the best mobility exercises?

In order to improve mobility, we want to start by stretching the muscles that have become over tight.

In those over 50, some common muscles that need to be stretched are the upper trapezius, anterior deltoid, pectoralis major, lattisimus dorsi, hip flexors, piriformis and calves.

To target these muscles, you first want to start with a foam roller, if you have one available. The foam roller will help to release over tight myofascial tissues before stretching.

Be sure you apply as much pressure as you can using the foam roller and hold the tender spots for at least 30 seconds or until you feel the discomfort dwindle (be aware: if you have osteoporosis or some other chronic conditions, foam rolling is contraindicated for you.  If that is the case, simply perform the stretches instead).

After applying the foam roller to those areas, we can start to stretch. For best results, you want to statically stretch the overactive muscles, holding for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Foam rolling

1. Upper back

2. Lats

3. Piriformis

4. Hamstrings

5. Calves

6. IT band

7. Hip flexors

Static stretches

1. Chest door stretch

2. Figure 4

3. Hip flexor standing

4. Calves

Building Strength

The next part of your mobility program for over 50 is going to be appropriate strengthening exercises for the underactive muscles. This includes the upper back musculature, core and glutes.

For the strengthening exercises, complete 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps each.

Strengthening Exercises

1. Glute bridge

2. Quadruped

3. Isometric upper back holds (stand with arms to the side and squeeze your shoulder blades together, while maintaining a long neck)

4. Supermans

5. Ball wall squats

I hope you enjoy these mobility exercises specifically designed for those over 50. As with any exercise program, consult your physician if you have not been active in some time and listen to your body. Use these great moves to help you reach your mobility goals!

Read more from WatchFit Expert Sarah Walentynowicz

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