In the US today, more than 18 million people have limited mobility. This is particularly common among older adults, with one in five experiencing mobility issues - due to the aging process. However, as quoted in a 2001 study “mobility difficulties are not only a problem of old age”. More people of all ages are experiencing mobility issues, affecting their quality of life.
In this post, we’re going to give you the lowdown of mobility - what is it? How can you improve it? Plus, keep reading to get a free mobility plan!
What impacts mobility?
Here are the three main causes of reduced mobility, and why.
1. Getting older
If you think of a stereotypical elderly person, you probably imagine them struggling to walk, complaining of back pain and shuffling along with a walking stick. That’s a stereotype for a reason - as we age, our mobility decreases. Unfortunately, research shows that age causes a decline in mobility, weakened muscular strength, reduced muscle and bone mass and a decrease in flexibility.
Age-related muscle loss and a loss of bone density is a condition known as sarcopenia. According to a study that examined muscle tissue changes that occur with age, we lose up to 8 percent of our muscle mass every ten years after 30. A loss of muscle mass results in reduced mobility and strength, poor balance, a decreased metabolic rate and accelerated aging.
But it’s not just the aging population that struggle with mobility. An increasing number of young adults are experiencing mobility issues caused by their lifestyle. You may not be aware of it, but your daily habits dictate the speed at which aging occurs, and to what extent.
Mobility issues affect all ages, despite predominantly affecting older individuals due to the muscle and bone loss mentioned. Nonetheless, many younger individuals also experience joint pain and a reduction in mobility, due to their lifestyle habits, diets, sedentary lifestyle or conversely, aspects of an active lifestyle.
2. Improper exercise recovery
You know that feeling when you hit an intense leg workout, leave the gym without stretching and the next day you can barely walk? Imagine doing that multiple times a week over the course of your adult life. You will start to experience pain during your workouts that you struggle to attribute to any notable injury. This is because your hip flexors, hamstrings and quads become so tight, that your mobility seriously decreases.
3. Sedentary lifestyle
If you live a more sedentary lifestyle - office job, minimal exercise - the seated position you remain in for the majority of your day causes tight hip flexors that have been shortened in their compressed position. While your upper body starts to curl over your laptop, destroying your posture and putting pressure on your lower spine.
A 2010 study published in the Exercise and Sports Science Reviews journal examined the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on mobility, finding that the amount of time spent sitting was associated with metabolic health.
This is, of course, due to a number of confounding factors - people who are more sedentary are also statistically more likely to also eat less healthy, struggle to maintain a healthy body weight etc. Nonetheless, the study provides a useful insight into how a sedentary lifestyle affects mobility and how this can cause metabolic disease, increase the risk of all-cause mortality and reduce an individual’s quality of life.
In fact, a meta-analysis of 13 studies found that those people who sat for more than eight hours per day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risk posed by obesity and smoking.
In short: being sedentary causes a reduction in mobility, but a reduction in mobility also increases your risk of being sedentary. So what do you need to do?
How to improve your mobility
First, don’t be sedentary - exercise regularly. Secondly, ensure you are increasing your mobility through specific training and post-workout recovery. We’re sure you already know why you need to exercise, so we won’t go into that. So focusing on the second point - how can you work to improve your mobility through training?
Focusing solely on stretching and myofascial release is one of the most effective ways to improve mobility long term. This is known as mobility training.
What is myofascial release?
Your fascia is a sheet of connective tissue, made predominantly of collagen, that holds everything together in the body. When your fascia gets tight, it affects your mobility, and can cause joint and muscle pain.
The best way to release your fascia (myofascial release) is to use the 3L Fit Ball Set and stretch out your muscles regularly, especially after a workout.
Myofascial release - using the 3L Fit Double Roller or Spiky Ball - has been shown in research to have a number of benefits including reducing joint pain, reducing back pain and stiffness, reducing your risk of injury, increasing your range of motion and improving your posture and balance - all affecting your mobility.
The 3L Fit Deluxe Ball Set has been specially made to improve mobility and is best used during stretching pre or post-workout. This set contains a 3L Double Roller and 3L Spiky Ball - two products that have been formulated by experts to penetrate your muscles and release tension in your joints.
What is stretching?
Stretching involves extending the muscle to its full length - you’re stretching the muscle out like you would an elastic band. When you regularly pull an elastic band, it loses its tightness and becomes looser and longer; which is what happens to your muscles, as the myofascia and muscle-tendon units release.
A 2009 study published in the American Journal of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation found that in a small 12 week trial, active stretching improved mobility and joint flexibility in a group of participants.
Mobility training guide
Combining both dynamic stretches (in movement) and static stretches (holding) combined with rolling out your muscles using the 3L Fit Set is the best way to improve your mobility over time.
Here is an example mobility training routine:
Dynamic mobility exercises:
Calf rolls using the 3L Fit Spiky Ball
IT band rolls using the 3L Fit Spiky Ball
Lunge with hamstring stretch
Static mobility exercises:
Psoas upward dog with 3L Fit Double Roller
Overhead tricep and shoulder stretch
Rhomboid stretch with overhead reach using 3L Fit Double Roller
Reclined spinal twist
Hip flexor lunge stretch
There are so many benefits when it comes to mobility training. You will:
Slow down, if not altogether eliminate, the effects of age-related mobility loss
Feel more agile
Have better flexibility
Alleviate chronic joint pain
Recover better between workouts
Amongst many more, well-established benefits. What are you waiting for? Start your mobility training today with 3L Fit.