In my opinion, one of the most underrated but one of the most important aspects of fitness is mobility and range of motion (ROM) in your joints. It’s something that everyone should actively try to improve in order to move and feel better.
WHAT IS ROM?
ROM is how far you can anatomically move during an exercise (effectively and fully stretching the targeted muscle groups). ROM is determined by the available mobility of the joint that you wish to move. A lack of mobility in the muscles and tissues will prevent the joint moving to its fullest potential.
Having greater ROM in your body makes life easier. Getting out of bed, putting on your socks, getting in and out of the car, playing with your children and getting the most out of the time you spend in the gym. Improving your ROM is one of the best ways to keep away unwanted aches and pains.
Due to tightened connective tissues and muscles around a joint, the chance of injury when performing an exercise is increased. Training and stretching through a full ROM will put appropriate levels of stress through these tight tissues and muscles increasing their flexibility and strength. You want to try to strengthen your muscles and tissues throughout the entire range of the joints so that no matter how you move your strong and stable in that position.
ROM IN PRACTICE
An example I often see in The Engine Room is when working with a beginner on a pull up exercise. Whilst using the appropriate elastic band, it’s common to see someone comfortable pulling their own body weight in the top half of the repetition. But lacking in strength in the most important part, the bottom of the pull up (the beginning of the movement). I encourage our members to use a band that offers more assistance and work on performing the pull up with a full ROM – allowing them to lengthen the lats, rear delts and biceps. Thus, building pulling strength in the weaker part of the movement for that individual.
ROM & SHAPE
As well as injury prevention, efficiency of movement through a full ROM will not only build strength but shape the entire targeted muscle or muscle groups. For example, if you suffer from tight hips you may find it difficult to fully stretch the hamstrings in a lunge which then means you won’t be able to effectively activate the glutes in the movement. You are missing out on some of the benefits of the lunge because you sit at a desk during your working day and don’t try to improve your mobility. I’m sure glute activation is reason enough for some of you to want to improve your ROM!!
A greater ROM also leads to more work done each rep, each exercise and each workout. The further the distance you have to move, the more work you have to do means more energy you are expending. A larger range of motion means more calories burned. And for those of you at The Engine Room with myzone belts…more MEP’s!
I have actively worked on my range of motion for years. When I first sought to be in the best possible shape I could be, my mobility was the area of my fitness that was lacking most and the biggest test for me was an overhead squat with a barbell. It highlighted my lack of mobility in my hips, shoulders and thoracic spine. Then an injury related to one of my sacroiliac joints back in 2012 made it obvious I had to address my range of motion. After recovering from my injury, I was determined to improve my flexibility and mobility.
I then started doing just as I had promised myself and worked and worked on my mobility. I bought a book called ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard by Dr Kelly Starrett’ and also followed his YouTube channel learning as much as I could to practically use in my own routines. It ultimately involved stretching – lots and lots of stretching, distracting, smashing and flossing. At the time, these activities were unknown to me but they worked! It wasn’t a short process and I haven’t cracked it. It has taken years to get to where I am but there is still work to do in pursuit of my optimal physical health.
ROM AT THE ENGINE ROOM
At the Engine Room, we deliver ROMWOD sessions – specifically designed to optimize your range of motion, accelerate recovery and ultimately boost performance. So if you need to improve your ROM, why not come along and try out one of these sessions? What have you got to lose……plus think about the benefits to those glutes!!