By: Nick Lape BS, CFMS
If you have ever been around a gym atmosphere there is a good chance that you have heard the term, mobility. But, what does it mean? A dictionary will tell you that it is the body’s ability to move a joint freely through a range of motion. While that is a great way of putting it, one way I like to talk about it is having the proper flexibility and stability to move a joint through a range of motion. If you do not have proper mobility and are working out, you may not be losing fat like you thought you should. Rather watch a video to learn about this? Click here!
Before we get into fat lost, let’s learn about how we get mobility? It’s through proper programming that has been designed to help a specific person with specific movement issues. Does that mean a program is all stretching and corrective exercise? Absolutely…NOT. Our first line of defense against immobility is soft tissue work, or foam rolling, or any other massage-like exercises you can think of. But, that isn’t all. As I mentioned above, stability, or strength, plays a huge role in keeping joints mobile as well. That may seem contradictory, but stretching a muscle as well as activating a muscle through simple unloaded movement can help make a muscle pliable. These would be things such as corrective exercises that have been designed to use flexibility and stability to prepare a joint for further manipulation. Either way we are bringing awareness and blood flow to the area by using the combination of both. When both flexibility and stability begin working together in a joint, you have more than likely created better mobility within that joint.
Now for the meat and taters of why you are all reading this article. How could that last paragraph possibly have anything to do with fat loss? Well here is the rundown. If you fail to do soft tissue work and break down possible physical stresses that your body is holding, then there is a good chance your range of motion will be lacking. When this happens your joints will NOT be able to continue moving in a manner that they should or that would be beneficial for strength training. Outside of the gym these joints tend to stiffen up, which makes it hard to move and can even cause pain through other movements. When you are in the gym with joints like this, strength training becomes difficult because of the lack of range of motion. This is when compensations can occur and your body gets out of alignment and those minor aches and pains can eventually get worse.
We all know that in order to burn fat we must challenge the body. We actually need to lift weights and strengthen the body. That’s why we have calisthenics, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. However, without proper range of motion, or mobility, you will be unable to recruit as many muscle fibers and fewer nerves will fire to the area that you are focusing on. When few nerves fire and fewer muscle fibers work you can actually fail to spike your metabolism in a way that will cause what we like to call the after burn. In other words, your body won’t work for you.
So let’s summarize, less mobility → less range of motion → more pain → lack of muscle fibers working → less neurons firing → less working metabolism → LESS FAT LOSS!!! Let’s not forget cortisol. If you are in pain your body will release cortisol, which will make it a lot harder to burn fat. Now we also know that you can add more and more and more and more exercises to your weekly and daily life in hopes that you will burn fat and lose weight. But, if you have poor mobility (along with a poor diet, lots of stress, and minimal sleep) results will be neat impossible. Instead of adding more exercises focus on performing a few correctly and building that range of motion. Include all aspects of fitness into your life; mobility, flexibility, stability, along with proper sleep, eat and stress management and you will get results. If you don’t, then it takes going back and reevaluating each of these aspects and changing accordingly. Don’t forget watch Nick’s video on this topic!