GET LOOSE: Why mobility is integral to moving well
Something that all of us TurF teachers consistently jam on is the amount of dedication, strength and stamina that the TurF community brings every single day. It’s beyond inspiring! And, we are also witness to how important it is that we balance the effort of the abdominal curl, deadlift or jumping jack with the tending of our major joints. For many of us, our day to day involves a lot of linear movement – sitting in a chair, typing on a device, driving, sitting on the couch, etc. I always like to compare our bodies to a house. If we’re not consistently sweeping, wiping down surfaces and folding laundry, our bedroom will quickly fill with dust bunnies, cobwebs and crinkled clothes. Our bodies are no different. We need to repattern ourselves everyday by moving our joints in different directions to lubricate and maintain range of motion. By moving dynamically, we’re also tending to our lymphatic system and fascial tissue, both of which play an integral role in feeling well.
We can define mobility here as moving a joint in its full range of motion to stimulate the release of synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a thick substance that provides lubrication, nourishment and cushioning for the bone heads of a joint. This fluid allows the bones to move more fluidly and its release is triggered with movement. A mobile joint allows the muscles to work more efficiently, and gives us space to go deeper in a squat, rotate with more ease in a bicycle or Russian twist, run faster, and stretch more efficiently. If our range of motion is limited, certain muscles can’t engage properly and others get overworked, which leads to discomfort and injury.
By default, this rotational movement engages our fascia, which is a seran-wrap-like tissue that coats our entire body, made mostly of collagen. Movement keeps our fascia elastic and hydrated, and on the flip side, stagnation, or limited mobility, causes it to become tight and wound up. Tight, dense fascia can lead to pain, knots, restricted breathing, impaired digestion, and overall restricted organ function. Animals intuitively know to keep their inner landscape pliable via penticulation, or more affectionately known by every pet owner as a “biiiiiiiig stretch!!!” This act of stretching-till-you-quiver-or-yawn is a beautiful way to tend to your fascial system, especially upon waking when things are particularly dehydrated and stiff.
If you’re comfortable with viewing the inside of a cadaver shoulder (I warned you!), I highly recommend watching this video that showcases the difference between a mobile and immobile shoulder. It is fascinating!
Another reason to mobilize, particularly the spine and upper container, is so we can breathe more efficiently. Twists, spinal flexion (think a cat cow) and stretches overhead or laterally side to side with the upper body help “unstick” the ribs and diaphragm and allow the ribs to expand and contract with more ease, enabling us to take deeper breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing is an antidote to anxiety, or put another way, a stuck diaphragm will lead to short shallow breaths which can induce anxiety. No bueno!
When we move three dimensionally and across different planes, we are also pumping our lymphatic system, which is an inner network of fluid and nodes that filter pathogens and toxins from our bodies and collect it to be excreted. Lymph is a milky liquid that runs through our entire body and it is the body’s garbage management system. Lymph is pumped through the body through movement, so similarly to fascia, lack of movement will cause stagnant lymph, which means our bodies are not efficiently clearing out waste that, if left unattended to, can cause disease.
Finally, it feels important to state that mobility work is important because it feeeeeels good. Who doesn’t love a big old hip circle or cat cow or supine twist stretch? What’s great about mobility is it can be quite activating or soothing. Take a lateral lunge side to side (in yoga, known as skandasana). This can be both mobilizing for the hips and very engaging for the glutes and inner thighs and core. In contrast, laying down on your back with hands to knees drawing circles to mobilize the hips can put us into a parasympathetic, or calm and relaxed state. Mobility can also look like taking 5 seconds to take a seated twist in your desk chair, interlacing your fingers and flipping your hands overhead and shining an imaginary halo, or sitting cross legged and stirring your trunk clockwise then counter-clockwise with hands to knees.
To celebrate the concept of loosening up our fascia and mobilizing our joints, we’re celebrating MOBILITY MARCH with a movement series called GET LOOSE every Friday evening in March from 5:15-6:15pm. Experience classic TurF classes with a mobility twist. Your joints and fascia will thank you! You can learn more and sign up on the TurF schedule.
March 3rd: GET LOOSE: meta with Meg
March 17th: GET LOOSE: meta with Ange + Taren
March 24th: GET LOOSE: CORE with Trilby
March 31st: GET LOOSE: meta with Karley