Agility: what is it and why is it important?

Beweglichkeit: Was ist das und wofĂĽr ist es wichtig?

Getting up in the morning and feeling fit, then sprinting to the bus, down the stairs without even thinking about an elevator and always being sure that you could easily arrest a fall. That is mobility in everyday life. The topic sounds general, but as the example shows, it is an enormously important function of our body and you must therefore promote it correctly.

We want to summarize and answer everything on the subject of mobility and important questions and answers in the following part. First, however, there is a brief summary of what mobility means exactly.

the essentials in brief

  • If you are flexible, muscles, tendons and ligaments are in harmony and work as a team. This is the only way your body works optimally.
  • The scope of the joints is exhausted with good mobility without grinding or pain.
  • Flexibility ensures good coordination of the body during a movement.

Background: what is agility?

In this chapter we want to describe everything about mobility in more detail and we'll start with the most important question. What does mobility mean to me?

What is mobility and what does it mean for me?

Based on these cornerstones, we now want to further explore the topic of mobility. Flexibility therefore means making movements without suffering from tension or other muscle problems.

The construct of your body can be fully exploited in its joint scope and the hand-eye coordination is optimal. Good mobility can prevent injuries in sports and is therefore important for you.(1)

agility

A good mobility of your body increases your well-being and your health. It can also prevent certain diseases. (Image Source: Unsplash / Rawan Yasser)

Sport is an activity that has increasingly become the focus of society again, because sport means a fit and therefore more fulfilling life. Any pain and injury avoidance is therefore of the highest priority.

Mobility is therefore also a top issue in training and for us it means security in everyday life and protection against back pain or other ailments.

Which parts of the body are particularly affected?

In principle, the entire body can be affected, but first of all we pay attention to the joints, because they can stiffen and become immobile due to a lack of mobility. In short, they hurt and limit your range of motion. Shoulder and hip joints are particularly affected.(3)

Joints always interact with tendons, ligaments and fascia, i.e. the connective tissue . These can also stick together, twist, become immobile and thus lead to health problems and complaints.(7)

In many people, the spine is also affected by incorrect posture and a lack of exercise, so that back pain has now become a common ailment and, alongside the weather, has become the number 1 topic of small talk.(4)

What are the benefits of mobility?

We discussed the benefits of agility above, but let's expand on them here. Mobility means avoiding pain on the one hand and also reducing the risk of falls or other dangerous areas. A moving body will also return to the status quo faster.(1)

Mobility itself offers you many advantages.

Now, a cynic might say that if you didn't move at all, you wouldn't have the fall in the first place, but it's not that simple either.

Apart from the fact that the way to the bakery must look fascinating for the cynic, it can unfortunately also be stated that a lack of mobility causes its own pain and stiffness.

The advantages of mobility are therefore increased mobility in everyday life and sports and better protection of the body. In addition, a high level of mobility also affects the biology of the body. It can increase your general well-being and thus also improve problems falling asleep .

How can I test my mobility?

Stand up, bend over, and try to touch your toes without cheating. Doesn't work? Then it is due to a lack of mobility and in the following we will tell you how we can test our mobility.

Checking your mobility is not just a single test. You need to test different body regions to get a full picture of your mobility.

We've already mentioned one exercise and that's the preventive bend test described above, but there are other tests that test the range of individual movements. Pain during stretching exercises can also be an indication of a lack of mobility. If you stretch your arms and legs and you feel blockages, then this would probably be the simplest indication of a restricted mobility.

How can I improve my mobility?

There are a number of ways you can improve your mobility. For a better overview, we have compiled the most important tips for you in a table.

Opportunity to improve mobility Description
stretching exercises(8) A good way to increase flexibility is to do simple stretching exercises. You can do this at home and you don't need any tools. However, you should warm up a little beforehand, for example by running in place, to avoid possible injuries.
Yoga and Pilates(6,10) You can also improve your mobility with yoga and Pilates exercises. To ensure that you do the exercises correctly, it is recommended that you take a course or have the exercises explained to you. You can only achieve a good training result and more mobility if you perform the movements correctly.
Fascia training(2) There are now special training programs that target the fascia. This includes stretching exercises and (self-) massages of the individual body regions. You usually need tools for this, such as fascia rollers or balls. Here, too, instruction is important so that you do not get injured.
weight training Strength training doesn't sound like it would improve mobility at first. However, you stabilize your joints and the associated muscles and ligaments through targeted strength training.(5,9) This promotes mobility.
movement(1) A mundane means of improving mobility is, quite simply, exercise. Getting up and walking regularly in everyday life can relax your body and support your mobility. Sports such as jogging can also contribute. The side effect of jogging is that it improves your condition and lowers your heart rate .

With this variety of options for improving your mobility, there is sure to be one that is right for you. The most important thing is that you choose what you enjoy and make sense for your body. It's best to try a few things!

What can make my mobility worse?

How can your mobility deteriorate? Simply put, by not moving. This can happen in different ways: on the one hand through work, but on the other hand also through life as a couch potato.(11)

Unfortunately, a problem with mobility can also arise due to the nature of the system.

Little movement or even one-sided movement leads to limited mobility faster than we think. Therefore, we should always have a training plan and stick to it.

Sit

Long and static sitting in the office at the desk can impair your mobility, especially in the spine and hip joints. (Image Source: Unsplash / Arlington Research)

In the event of an injury, your mobility can be permanently restricted and every negative factor on your mobility must be fought extra hard. So you're in a constant fight against lack of mobility, but with the right exercises it's still fun and a life of high mobility is definitely worth the stress of training.

What tools can I use to improve my mobility?

Which aids can help with mobility exercises? In the following table we present you the most important aids to improve your mobility.

aids Description functionality
Fascia roll(12) A foam roller consists of a very hard foam. Using this reel is quite simple. You simply roll over the roller with the different body regions, such as the calves, thighs or back. There are different sized fascia rolls. The roller helps detackify and detangle the fascia that is present throughout your body. The tissue becomes softer and the body gains mobility. In addition, the pressure on the cells from the hard fascia roll promotes the exchange of fluid in the cells. Degradation products can thus be better transported away.
fascia ball The fascia ball is like the roller made of hard foam, only as a ball. There are different sizes here too. With a fascia ball you can have an even more targeted effect on affected body regions and treat pain points. So you become more flexible. As an alternative, you can also use a simple tennis ball for spot application. The functionality is the same as with the foam roller, except that smaller regions of the body can be made elastic in a more targeted manner. A fascia ball also penetrates deeper into the tissue.
warmth There are various heat treatments. This includes heat bags, pads or pillows. Professional applications are fango packs or infrared lamps. Sometimes even a warm bath or a sauna session helps to relax your muscles and ensure more mobility. The heat penetrates deep into the tissue so that the blood vessels dilate. This promotes blood circulation, muscles can become soft again. Degradation products are also transported away more quickly.
sports equipment Of course, there is also special sports equipment that you can use to train your mobility. For example, you can use these machines to better stretch different parts of your body. You can do a lot of exercises with it. In particular, you can improve the ability to stretch. Muscles are unraveled, adhesions loosened. You can also fix shortening of your tendons, which can be caused by sitting a lot. This will automatically increase your mobility.(8)
training partner Of course, it is most fun in pairs or in a small group to try out different exercises to improve mobility. The advantage of training with training partners lies in the higher motivation and the opportunity to correct each other and thus ensure a better training result.

The selection of aids to improve your mobility is therefore very large. You will certainly find the remedy that helps you the most and best maintains and promotes your mobility. It doesn't always have to cost anything.

tennis ball

You do not necessarily need expensive fascia products to train your fascia. You can also promote your mobility with a tennis ball. (Image Source: Unsplash / Glen Carrie)

The most important thing is that the aids are used regularly, because even the best aids cannot improve mobility if they are only used once a year.

Conclusion

So we have shown that it is important to always promote your mobility, because you need it not only during sport, but also in everyday life. A fit everyday life is a fulfilling life and the tips above will hopefully help. We should all be doing and sticking to exercise regularly and this is best achieved in combination with assistive devices.

If you have severe mobility problems, then you may even need advice from a professional who can give you medical advice on how to help your body move better in the future. Good luck in implementing this advice and hopefully you are now aware of the importance of mobility and you will remain flexible even in old age.

References

  1. Dipl. Päd. Réne Gräber: Studies: Mobility & "Fitness" for the quality of life. 2017 Source
  2. Dipl. Päd. Réne Gräber: Fascia training - importance in pain therapy and training. Source
  3. dr Nicolas Gumpert: Normal values ​​​​of the joints / range of motion. 2020 Source
  4. Eva Rudolf-MĂĽller: Spine. 2017 Source
  5. Veeger HE, van der Helm FC. Shoulder function: the perfect compromise between mobility and stability. J Biomech. 2007;40(10):2119-29. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2006.10.016. Epub 2007 Jan 12. PMID: 17222853. Source
  6. Jami L Golgi tendon organs in mammalian skeletal muscle: functional properties and central actions. Physiol Rev. 1992 Jul;72(3):623-66. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1992.72.3.623. PMID: 1626033. Source
  7. Järvinen TA, Józsa L, Kannus P, Järvinen TL, Järvinen M. Organization and distribution of intramuscular connective tissue in normal and immobilized skeletal muscles. An immunohistochemical, polarization and scanning electron microscopic study. J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2002;23(3):245-54. doi: 10.1023/a:1020904518336. PMID: 12500904. Source
  8. Behm DG, Blazevich AJ, Kay AD, McHugh M. Acute effects of muscle stretching on physical performance, range of motion, and injury incidence in healthy active individuals: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2016 Jan;41(1):1-11. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0235. Epub 2015 Dec 8. PMID: 26642915. Source
  9. Huffer D, Hing W, Newton R, Clair M. Strength training for plantar fasciitis and the intrinsic foot musculature: A systematic review. Phys Ther Sport. 2017 Mar;24:44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2016.08.008. Epub 2016 Aug 18. PMID: 27692740. Source
  10. Youkhana S, Dean CM, Wolff M, Sherrington C, Tiedemann A. Yoga-based exercise improves balance and mobility in people aged 60 and over: a systematic review and meta-analysis. age aging 2016 Jan;45(1):21-9. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv175. Epub 2015 Dec 25. PMID: 26707903. Source
  11. Juliane Gutmann: Sitting is so harmful. Pharmacy Review.2019 Source
  12. Junker D, Stöggl T. The Training Effects of Foam Rolling on Core Strength Endurance, Balance, Muscle Performance and Range of Motion: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Sports Sci Med. 2019 Jun 1;18(2):229-238. PMID: 31191092; PMCID: PMC6543984. Source
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